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State School Orphanage Museum

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Address: 540 W Hills Cir, Owatonna, MN 55060-4701
Phone Number: +1 507-774-7369
Website
Description:

Experience what life was like at this state-run school for orphaned or...

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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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

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Good history

All I can say is wow! What a great experience to history of Owatonna. Must see! It will make you think of how things used to be

5 of 5 starsReviewed 2 weeks ago
Smelly1971
via mobile
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30 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 30: English reviews
Minnesota
Level Contributor
13 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 6 days ago NEW

My mother was raised in an orphanage so it was rather heart-breaking to look at the rooms and listen to the history and experiences of a man who was actually raised there. I was impressed that the city had kept the building in such good shape and is using part of it for city offices. Definitely worth a stop.

Helpful?
Thank pingsis2
Level Contributor
28 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

All I can say is wow! What a great experience to history of Owatonna. Must see! It will make you think of how things used to be

Helpful?
Thank Smelly1971
Rochester, Minnesota
Level Contributor
21 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 3 weeks ago

The residence is quiet and if you listen the children will talk to you. You feel their presence here...I acted in many productions, in the Middle Building of West Hills...Many plays presented to the community. We did everything from Nunsense to, A Few Good Men... I felt we entertained them with delite...Over the course of ten years acting there, I... More 

Helpful?
1 Thank mugga49
Santiago
Level Contributor
123 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 weeks ago via mobile

I often visit Owatonna on business and always try to make time to visit this unique, educational and moving look back at a sad part of Minnesota history. Although this state school orphanage may have been the best option available to the kids who were sent here to live it is easy to see the harsh and regimented lifestyle the... More 

Helpful?
1 Thank Minneapolisdoyle
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Beautiful grounds. Very interesting to find out how some children were treated back in the day. Sad how they broke up families and some never have found their brothers and sisters.

Helpful?
1 Thank Julie B
Level Contributor
26 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 12, 2016

What a historic great place to visit. Walk around and listen to the story at the audio statues and maps. Go inside the gym and look at the former pool, walk around and feel the energy. Try to be there when cottage 11 is open and let the vibe come to you. So much to see and don't forget to... More 

Helpful?
1 Thank 151barbarak
Omaha, Nebraska
Level Contributor
64 reviews
28 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 13, 2016

I recently visited here with my aunt, who along with my uncle and cousins, has lived in Owatonna for over 40 years but who recently discovered this hidden gem. Turns out one of their former neighbors was a resident of the state home as a child in the 1930s! Being from Omaha, the facility reminds me of a scaled down... More 

Helpful?
Thank 2CatsMom
Museum540, Manager at State School Orphanage Museum, responded to this review

Thank you so much for the kind review! I love the heading you gave it. We are always happy when we make an impact on our visitors, and sharing your thoughts on TripAdvisor may help others come to plan a stop and learn the stories. Our mission is to keep alive the memory of the 10,635 children who came to... More 

Montgomery, Minnesota
Level Contributor
22 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 28, 2016

I went here after I watched a documentary of the orphanage on PBS. I was very intrigued and my family and I took a roadtrip to Owatonna. I loved seeing the actual buildings after watching it on TV. The museum was well done and we really enjoyed our visit.

Helpful?
Thank Chrisjoyy
Museum540, Manager at State School Orphanage Museum, responded to this review

Thank you for the terrific review! We appreciate you taking the time to share your opinion. We're so happy you enjoyed the visit. Anne Peterson Museum Director More 

Owatonna, Minnesota, United States
Level Contributor
45 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 8, 2016

We are personal friends with Harvey and Maxine Ronglien, who were instrumental in the founding and creating the museum. The entire city has come along side them to pull together memories and history of the State School of our countries history. Plan enough time to walk through the Art Center which is in the same building. Call ahead if you... More 

Helpful?
Thank Pat K
Museum540, Manager at State School Orphanage Museum, responded to this review

Thank you for the kind review! We are so grateful to Harvey & Maxine for their years of dedication to make sure the lives of the State School children are remembered. Anne Peterson Museum Director More 

Minnesota
Level Contributor
15 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 30, 2015

Great exhibit, very interesting information on Minnesota history and the lives of orphans in the early to mid 1900's.

Helpful?
Thank MNGTO
Museum540, Museum Director at State School Orphanage Museum, responded to this review

Thank you for visiting our Museum and for taking the time to share your thoughts with others. We appreciate it so much! More 

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  • Do I have to buy a ticket for my infant?
  • How do I get there using public transportation?
  • Is there a restaurant or café onsite?