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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 12 Attractions in Owatonna
Type: Specialty Museums, Museums
Owner description: Experience what life was like at this state-run school for orphaned or neglected children. The...
More attraction details
Attraction details
Type: Specialty Museums, Museums
Owner description: Experience what life was like at this state-run school for orphaned or neglected children. The Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children was built in 1886 and closed in 1945. The museum uses exhibits of artifacts, as well as video and audio stations to tell the story of the more than 10,000 children who came through the school.

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20 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Owatonna, Minnesota
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
3 attraction reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 4, 2014

Self guided tour for the most part. You will see what life was like for the children who were left here. It is emotional and thought provoking. Tour the main building which houses the museum and a local art gallery. Then visit the boys cabin, cemetery and grounds. One of the last surviving boys lends his voice and stories through... More 

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Owatonna, MN
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 2, 2014

I have a relative that lived in the orphanage and this is a very, very good tribute to the people that have lived there.

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Lake City, Minnesota
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 3, 2014

It was so interesting. The museum is well organized. There are audio kiosks placed around the entire estate to listen to that explain what you are seeing. A must see.

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Owatonna, Minnesota
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
3 attraction reviews
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 3, 2014

If you are in Owatonna, MN you must visit the State School Orphanage Museum Many people are not aware of the State School Orphanage which was in Owatonna. It is very interesting and provides a glimpse into the days of the past. On certain days you can even visit an old dormitory to see where the kids slept and what... More 

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Alpena, MI
Top Contributor
71 reviews 71 reviews
3 attraction reviews
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 4, 2014

This was a blast from the past. If you are at all interested in child welfare or what a window into how things were, this is your place. It is beautiful yet haunting as you look back at how children were raised in the orphanage. I left with mixed feelings about the value of an orphanage. I found it interesting... More 

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La Jolla
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 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
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
7 attraction reviews
5 helpful votes 5 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 

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New York City, New York
Senior Contributor
49 reviews 49 reviews
10 attraction reviews
12 helpful votes 12 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 

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Iowa
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
9 attraction reviews
19 helpful votes 19 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 

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Vadnais Heights, Minnesota
Top Contributor
181 reviews 181 reviews
120 attraction reviews
60 helpful votes 60 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 

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