Adams is 150 years young; Minnesota town celebrates sesquicentennial

Published 9:06 am Monday, June 11, 2018

Lifelong Adams resident Maynard Lewison held up a black and white photograph taken circa 1925 at the corner of Fourth and Main Streets in Adams. It was one of several photographs in a collection at the new Adams Area Historical Society and History Center museum.

“This is where my dad built the first Standard Oil Building,” he said, pointing to a building on the corner.

As he glanced at the photograph, the 86-year-old Air Force veteran pointed out several other familiar spots.

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“That’s where the grocery store is now and that’s Bubbles (Café),” he said. “It looks an awful lot different now.”

Adams held its annual Dairy Days celebration this weekend; however, the town was also celebrating 150 years since Selah Chamberlain platted it in 1868.

The Adams Area Historical Society opened a new museum to commemorate Adams Sesquicentennial.

To commemorate the sesquicentennial, the Adams Area Historical Society opened the new History Center museum on Thursday, the first day of Dairy Days. The museum is housed in the old First National Bank, which was built in 1914 and is on the National register of Historic Places. Inside were items and artifacts, collected from residents and former residents, which painted a picture of Adams’ past.

When asked about changes over the years, several agreed that the consolidation of the schools was one of the more significant.

“Probably the biggest change was when the high school consolidated from Adams High School into Southland High School,” said Charles Gilles, a member of the board of the new museum. “The last Adams High School class was 1973. That was a big change for the community.”

“We used to have grades K-12 in one building, now we have the different schools,” said Marj Bartholmay, who was born and raised in Adams. “The year that I graduated, we consolidated and became Southland.”

Artifacts from Adams history are displayed on shelves at the Adams History Center.

Bartholmay, whose husband, Kevin “Bart” Batholmay, was mayor of Adams in the 1980s, is the founder of the Rippin’ Stitchers Quilt Guild. The guild held a sesquicentennial quilt show at Little Cedar Lutheran Church as part of the Adams Dairy Days festivities.

Every pew inside the church was covered with countless quilts, many made by hand, that had a connection to Adams.

“There’s thousands of hours worth of quilts,” said Linda Logsdon, who organized the shows at the request of Adams Mayor Nancy Thalberg. “(Little Cedar Lutheran Church) is a perfect place to put it because every quilt is made with love. And there are a lot of hours of love here.”

Bartholmay remembered the old Little Cedar Lutheran Church.

“It used to be further down and we had to climb up what to me was a mountain of steps,” she said with a laugh.

Batholmay shared other stories of her childhood in Adams.

The Adams Area Historical Society opened a new museum to commemorate Adams Sesquicentennial.

“Mike and Bill’s was a bar downtown and it had a big old wooden bar,” she said. “They had a barrel where they used to roll the kegs in the basement and sometimes they would let us kids slide down that. There was a Royal Tribe where all of the high school kids hung out. It was downtown on the Main Street and you could go play pinball and arcade games. It was a hang out, like the roller rink in Brownsdale is what the Royal Tribe was to the kids.”

Lewison also remembered Mike and Bill’s.

“Us kids would come down everyday to Mike and Bill’s and get an ice cream cone,” he said.

But as the years went on, inevitable change came to Adams. The Bartholmays purchased Mike and Bill’s and altered it into a bar and restaurant. The building now serves as a tax office.

Pews at the Little Cedar Lutheran Church were covered in quilts, displayed to for the Adams Sesquicentennial.

“We’ve lost a lot of businesses for sure,” Lewison said. “We had four beer joints, three grocery stores and probably four gas stations at one time. It’s changed an awful lot over the years. (The owners) got older and they just left after that. It was a lot more activity going on in years past.”

But despite the changes, it was agreed that Adams still maintained its small town atmosphere.

“That has not changed at all,” Bartholmay said. “If there is somebody who is down, you can bank on it that you’ll be brought right back up.”

“I’m happy with it here,” Lewison said. “It’s a nice community; everybody’s pretty friendly here and helps everybody. If something really goes wrong with somebody, everybody is here to help; that’s a big thing in a small town.”