Looking back at three months of closure

Published 7:01 am Saturday, June 13, 2020

Three months. That’s how long the Hormel Historic Home (like so many other businesses around the nation) has been closed.

That’s a quarter of our year.  A quarter in which we would have been giving tours, hosting parties, offering educational and musical programming, and contributing to the culture of our community.  We had to close for the safety of all, and we will reopen with safety in mind and with our mission intact.

George Hormel experienced many periods of upheaval in the economy during his lifetime. He wrote about how the panic of 1873 launched him into the labor force-at the age of 12!

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“It finally came my turn to be laid off. After that, no matter how hard I tried, I was frequently out of a job for one reason or another. The creeping paralysis, which spread to every part of the business structure following the panic, had made a steady job all but impossible to find. I desperately wanted such a job. The uncertainty of never knowing whether I would have a few dollars to hand my mother for my board at the week’s end, was fast making me into an over-anxious, unsure boy.”

He experienced another period of unemployment in 1878 during what is referred to as the Long Depression, which started with the 1873 panic and lasted until 1879.  The peak unemployment rate in 1878 is said to have been between 8 and 14 percent.  Thinking he’d find more opportunity in the ‘west’, George went to Kansas City to start over.  Of this period he wrote,

“Even in the panic years I had always been able to get a job of sorts. Now I could find nothing.”

Then in 1893, George experienced an economic panic that he described as “one of the most critical times in the company’s history.”

In this case, George not only had himself to provide for, he had a family and he a had employees and a community counting on him.  The pressure was immense, but his commitment to producing quality products (specifically sausage) led to him successfully navigating a very challenging time.

In the scope of history, three months isn’t that long. But it feels long, it feels isolating and it has felt scary at times.

As we now prepare to open, our day to day operations will look different. We will ask visitors to wear facemasks, to observe social distancing guidelines, and to be patient as we limit the number of visitors. We will draw on the experiences and wisdom of George Hormel to find ways to succeed and to continue serving this community even in the most difficult of times.

Thank you to all who have supported us with donations or words of encouragement during this time. George didn’t do it alone and neither have we.  We can’t wait to see you soon.

Upcoming Events

Hormel Historic Home opens for members

10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday, June 15

Hump Day History: History of Baseball Great: Moose Skowron

Noon, Wednesday, June 17

presented free on Facebook Live

Historic Home opens to the general public

10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday, June 18