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State School Orphanage Museum

540 West Hills Circle, Owatonna, MN
+1 507-774-7369
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Ranked #1 of 20 Attractions in Owatonna
Type: Specialty Museums
Description: Life in this home for children from the 1880s to the 1940s is depicted through exhibits of artifacts and narrative documents.
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16 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
La Jolla
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 15, 2014

This was such a moving experience. First you drive up to these beautiful grounds and see majestic buildings that were made to stand the test of time. You go into the main building and start reading some of the stories and see the photos and you begin to feel some emotional pain. We were fortunate to be there when the... More

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
Farmington, Minnesota
11 reviews 11 reviews
3 attraction reviews
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 30, 2014

Lived in Minnesota for over 30 years and had no idea this hidden gem was only an hour away. Went with a local tour group, and we all felt impacted by this visit. The volunteers are so dedicated and was fortunate to have an actual resident of the orphanage as our guide. The museum staff provided us with delightful refreshments... More

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
New York City, New York
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
8 attraction reviews
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 13, 2014

I've been visiting this site since I was a child. I have always been fascinated by the lives of the children who lived at this orphanage. There are a lot of artifacts to see, and stories to read. It's a somber day, but it's a good day too. They just opened a new cottage for viewing, to see where the... More

Was this review helpful? Yes 2
19 reviews 19 reviews
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 29, 2013

We found out about this historic site merely by accident (looking for something to do as visitors to this part of Minnesota). A truly worthy, humbling place to visit, considering the history and number of children cared for here. As others have mentioned, the grounds, building architecture are excellent to behold. The Children's Cemetary deeply impacts the heart, quiets the... More

Was this review helpful? Yes 3
16 reviews 16 reviews
8 attraction reviews
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 15, 2013

I met friends here, who with me took the self-guided tour through the museum and then the walk through the grounds, where audio stations are set up. This is a high quality presentation of history. I will return to walk the grounds again with others. There is no fee, but there is an opportunity to leave a free-will donation in... More

Was this review helpful? Yes 3
Vadnais Heights, Minnesota
Top Contributor
178 reviews 178 reviews
118 attraction reviews
56 helpful votes 56 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 8, 2013

The State School Orphanage has a museum, cottage, audio tour, and printed information for learning more about the history. It was my understanding that one needed to arrange a tour guide by having a group. We were fortunate to be allowed to "tag along" with a previously formed group led by Harvey Ronglien, former resident from age 5-18. It was... More

Was this review helpful? Yes 6
St. Paul, MN
Top Contributor
173 reviews 173 reviews
37 attraction reviews
213 helpful votes 213 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 6, 2013

On a recent visit to Owatonna we stopped here to visit. The grounds are impressive. The buildings have been maintained very well. Most of them are being used for different groups. The museum has nice exhibits of how the orphanage was in the past. There are many pictures and stories to read from actual people who lived there. Some of... More

Was this review helpful? Yes 5
4 reviews 4 reviews
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 4, 2013

Every person young and old should visit. It tells how some of the orphans ended up here and how they were treated once they arrived. This shows the hard life that orphans had and how self sustaining this orphanage was. Make sure that you take the self guided walk of the grounds as well as visiting the museum. Take time... More

Was this review helpful? Yes 4
Top Contributor
73 reviews 73 reviews
33 attraction reviews
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 18, 2012

This museum had a HUGE impact on my kids who each toured as 6th graders. It's hard to think about children living without families, sick and lonely, even dying. Today's youngsters and adults will come away with an appreciation for how very good we have/had it.

Was this review helpful? Yes 4
Brainerd, Minnesota
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 25, 2012

They have a large collection of items from the period. Cottage 11 is especially moving. You really get a feeling for the era the school was actve.

Was this review helpful? Yes 4

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