Scandia Heritage Alliance was loosely formed in late 2016 when a group of Scandia residents* with a common interest in restoring Scandia’s historic Water Tower Barn (see history at right) gathered with Christine Maefsky after she was elected Mayor. They discussed ways to preserve and celebrate Scandia’s rich history, culture, arts, and rural character – as well as ideas for bringing back the Water Tower Barn in a public way. They decided to form an organization dedicated to culture and historic preservation, and after a series of meetings landed on the name Scandia Heritage Alliance and charted the organization’s mission.
SHA aims to strengthen community bonds in Scandia, and to further this goal, board members initiated an annual Progressive Dinner fundraiser that enables residents to get to know one another in the personal setting of residents’ homes. SHA forged a relationship with the local Gammelgården Museum, which agreed to hold the dessert course for all participants. More than 70 Scandia residents participated in the inaugural event in Fall 2018, and another successful event was held in 2019.** Due to COVID-19, no events were held in 2020. In 2021, SHA launched the Scandia History Series and held successful fundraiser events at Rustic Roots Winery and Redeemed Farm.
SHA identified the following initial goals:
Following are the organization’s key milestones.
Held inaugural Progressive Dinner fundraiser event
Gained IRS approval as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization
Held community meeting to gain feedback on Arts & Heritage Center
Completed architectural report recommending the most ideal site for the Arts & Heritage Center
Gained unanimous vote from City of Scandia to partner on the Arts & Heritage Center project, including proposed land lease for $1/year
Awarded a $10,000 Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant from the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) to “Research the History of Scandia and its Important Sites,” the first step in developing the Scandia Heritage Trail
Redevelopment agreement signed with City of Scandia to develop the Arts & Heritage Center at the site south of the Community Center on Olinda Trail
Completed site feasibility study for Arts & Heritage Center (positive result)
Completed research on “History of Scandia and its Important Sites”
Completed the Master Plan and schematic architectural drawings for the Water Tower Barn - Scandia Arts & Heritage Center.
Awarded a $10,000 Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant from MNHS to “Research the History, Engineering and Distinctive Design of the Scandia Water Tower Barn Tankhouse," the first step towards resurrecting the barn in a historically accurate way and applying to place the barn on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Awarded a $100,000 capital grant from the Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation to support the Arts & Heritage Center project.
Launched the Scandia History Series programs, with the first program covering the Development of Marine Mills towns, including Scandia, Copas, and Vasa, presented by Mark McGinley.
Arts & Heritage Center Master Plan, variance, and PUD request approved by the Scandia City Council.
Awarded a $50,000 capital grant from the Hardenbergh Foundation to support the Arts & Heritage Center project.
Awarded a $7,500 Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant from MNHS to develop the Trail Map for the Scandia Heritage Trail.
Awarded $2.2 million by the Minnesota Legislature to build the Water Tower Barn Arts & Heritage Center
Publication of the Scandia Heritage Tail Map.
*The Scandia residents who spearheaded creation of SHA are: Susan Rodsjo, Christine Maefsky, Pamela Plowman Smith, Leila Denecke, Sarah Porubcansky, John Herman, Pam Arnold, and Steve and Lisa Philippi.
Frank Lake’s mercantile was a center of community life in Scandia in the 1890s and early 1900s. Located just across the road from Elim Lutheran church, it offered the latest fashions as well as shiny new farm equipment.
When Lake built a barn just behind his store, it was not simply to stable his delivery horses. He added a windmill to pull water from deep underground and an elevated water tankhouse. Wooden pipes supplied his business, home and neighbors with fresh water. A horse-drawn wagon delivered water to outlying homes and farms. Scandia businesses flourished.
Lake also sold the famous Aermotor windmill, which had taken the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair by storm, soon dotting the Midwest landscape and transforming life on small family farms.
While crucial, the age of the windmill was relatively brief. By the 1930s, rural electrification offered a modern alternative for pumping water. But windmills are more than just a symbol of a bygone era. They represent a spark of human ingenuity that employed wind and water to make an entire way of life possible. Such is the deeper story of Scandia’s Water Tower Barn, the last structure of its kind in Minnesota.
Lake’s windmill was gone by 1940, but water still flows from the barn’s well to local customers. When it appeared that the barn itself might be demolished, Scandia citizens disassembled and stored it in hopes of rebuilding it with a new purpose and home.
That time is now. Scandia Heritage Alliance has reimagined the Water Tower Barn as the heart of an Arts and Heritage Center that will celebrate Scandia’s history and the power of wind and water to nurture us all.
John practiced law in the Twin Cities for more than 40 years, most recently as partner at Faegre Baker Daniels, the region's largest law firm. He now provides development advisory services through Herman Real Estate Advisors LLC.
John’s practice centers on the intersection of finance and regulatory approvals for major development. He was the lobbyist for many laws in the environmental and development finance areas and has represented many major cultural and real estate developments in the state. His real estate development financing experience includes Tax Increment Financing, State Bond Financed Property, Historic Tax Credits, and New Market Tax Credits.
John has also been a leading environmental advocate involved in passage of much of Minnesota's nationally recognized environmental legislation. He is a long-time land preservation advocate and was a key player in creation of the Metropolitan Open Space System, as well as establishment of the Root River Trail, Tettegouche Park, and Cedar Lake Park. He is a member of the Minnesota Advisory Board of the Trust for Public Land and the St. Croix River Association Board. John has received numerous awards and recognition for his legislative work and his legal practice.
John guides SHA on the regulations surrounding State Bond Financing of capital projects, State Legacy Funding, and other financing options.
Mayor Christine Maefsky has lived in Scandia for 50 years, where she and her husband and family operate Poplar Hill Dairy Goat Farm, Minnesota’s only Grade A commercial goat dairy. Christine has been mayor of Scandia since 2017. She previously served on the Scandia Planning Commission for 10 years, six years as its Chair.
Christine taught in K-8 education for 33 years. For over 26 years, she conducted teacher training in areas related to curriculum and instruction
, She has presented at national conferences including the National Association for Gifted Children and the International Reading Association.
Christine’s vision for Scandia emphasizes its rural character, environmental riches, and proud history. This includes preserving its open-space viewsheds, dark night skies, small-town hospitality, excellent school, rich public parks and trails, the high water quality of its lakes and the St. Croix River (which makes up the City’s entire eastern border), and revitalizing the City’s Village Center to support appropriate-scale growth and change that is compatible with this vision. Christine prioritizes promoting the City’s rich heritage -- including acknowledging its Ojibwe and Dakota roots and its history as the site of the first Swedish settlement in Minnesota – and its historic sites such as Gammelgården Museum, Hay Lake School Museum, and the Swedish Settler’s Monument.
Dan was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. His love for the St. Croix Valley has its roots in summers spent some 70 years ago at the family cabin in the little village of Franconia.
Upon graduation in 1963 from Amherst College with a degree in American History, Dan started his 35-year career at Investors Diversified Services (now Ameriprise) in Minneapolis. He held positions as Director of Staffing and Employee Relations, Director of Community Relations and Corporate Communications, and Director of Client Service for IDS Life Insurance Company.
Throughout adult life, Dan has felt a strong call to community service. After college, he spent six years in the US Army Reserve (Communications Intelligence). He served on the Hennepin County Personnel Board and the boards of YMCA Camp Widjiwagan and Courage Center.
In 1995, in anticipation of retirement, Dan and his wife Ruth Ann moved to Scandia. Dan subsequently served on the boards of St. Croix Valley Foundation and St. Croix River Association, where he served as board chair. In 2014 Dan received the Association’s annual Watershed Stewardship Award.
Dan currently serves on advisory boards supporting North Woods and Waters National Heritage Area and Wild Rivers Conservancy. Most recently Dan chaired the Steering Committee for the Water Tower Barn Arts & Heritage Center.
Sarah returned to Minnesota in 2014 and began immersing herself in Scandia’s heritage after decades in which she worked for non-profits in the field of culture, co-founded an innovative online women’s clothing retail business, and slowly circumnavigated the globe, living in New York, Moscow, Vienna, Hong Kong, and Los Angeles. She helped organize a conference of influential women from the newly liberated countries of Central and Eastern Europe. She also traveled widely as a board member for the Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas. She was responsible for creating the organization’s first web presence. In Southern California, she did marketing and event management for a world-class cultural institution, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. With partners, she later launched MyShape, an ambitious startup that sought to revolutionize the women’s apparel business. Sarah served as Customer Experience Officer for MyShape, which attracted millions of dollars in venture capital and employed more than 100 people.
Back in Minnesota, Sarah is on the Scandia Tourism Committee and chairs the SHA Communications Committee. Previously, she managed and served as board chair of the Scandia Farmers Market and held several positions at Scandia’s premier cultural institution, Gammelgården Museum, where she spearheaded a drive to have buildings accepted onto the National Register of Historic Places.
Susan, SHA Founder and Board President, brings to the table a love of history and preservation, family ties to Scandia (her grandfather was born and raised in Scandia/Marine), and project management and branding expertise. Susan is an award-winning healthcare writer and graphic designer and owner of the brand consulting firm Entelo Marketing Communications. Susan currently works in management at her husband's company Global Air Charters based in St. Paul. Her former roles include marketing communications manager at Medtronic and a writer/editor for multiple healthcare and technology publications.
Susan served on the Scandia Planning Commission for three years starting in 2008, chaired the Scandia Architectural Design Guidelines Committee, and wrote the Architectural Design Guidelines document. Susan and her family served as a Big Family through Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Twin Cities, and they have hosted multiple foreign exchange students. In 2010, Susan purchased and renovated the former phone company building on Olinda Trail in the Scandia Village Center.
Pam’s ties to Scandia and the St. Croix River run deep, going back four generations. Her great-grandparents paddled upriver from Stillwater in the autumn of 1917, camped in Marine, continued north, and ended their journey by purchasing a cottage in Otisville (a platted neighborhood in Scandia). Over his lifetime, Pam’s great-grandfather bought hundreds of acres of land along the St. Croix River to protect it from development, and this land is now part of the Wild and Scenic River protected parkland. Pam and her husband, Mike, feel very fortunate to own the cottage in which Pam’s grandmother and father spent every childhood summer, and Pam’s generation of cousins (coming from opposite coasts) did the same. She and Mike split their time between their Scandia cottage and a residence in Idaho.
Pam’s professional career has been in the life insurance industry, first in management at an innovative fast-growing insurance carrier and then for the last 30 years as co-owner and chief operations officer at a life insurance brokerage company.
Pam has been involved in philanthropic and civic endeavors
, including co-chair of an annual fundraising event for a child abuse prevention center, PTO officer and events committee leader, and chair of the Scandia City Council-appointed Log House Landing Committee. She currently serves on the board of a business Women’s Leadership Council.
Greg is a long-time resident of Scandia, Minnesota, where he lives with his wife, Betsy, on their hobby farm near the St. Croix River.
His past accomplishments include shopping center management in Minnesota and California, establishing a successful timber-frame home construction company, holding a real-estate broker license in MN and owning and managing a vacation rental home business on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Lutsen.
A former builder and dealer for Lindal Homes, Greg became an inventor and entrepreneur when he founded his company CornerFlex, Inc., DBA InstaTrim Products, after the housing market declined in 2009. Ultimately, he created a new product category in the DIY marketplace that competes directly with caulking products, with InstaTrim becoming Amazon’s #1 product in the building materials and adhesives category throughout the United States.
Currently, Greg works as President and CEO of InstaTrim Products. He has served on Scandia’s Planning Commission and is currently the President of Scandia’s EDA (Economic Development Authority). Greg graduated from UW Madison with a BS degree in Construction Management. His hobbies include photography, hiking, kayaking, wood working and caring for the animals on his hobby farm.
Tammy was born in Scandia and always wanted to return to her hometown when she retired. She and her husband, Chris, accomplished that goal in 2000 when they built their retirement home in the woods behind the house where her father still lives.
In addition to her role on the SHA Board, Tammy is proud to be actively involved with the Scandia-Marine Lions and Elim Lutheran Church, where she is finance chair and also helps organize the Elim Archives.
Tammy sees serving on the SHA board as furthering the legacy of her mom, Dolores Peterson, who served as Township Clerk for New Scandia Township for 32 years. Dolores was also a founding member of the Scandia Civic Club, a heritage organization that preceded SHA.
After graduating from Hamline University, Tammy worked in bank operations for 10 years, followed by 32 years as an audit director in community banks. During her career, she earned and maintained her Certified Internal Auditor designation, an
internationally recognized certification. Her final position prior to retirement was Director of Internal Audit at Sunrise Bank, where she was responsible for all internal audit services and coordination of external audit programs.
Tammy and her husband previously lived in St. Paul and Maplewood, where they raised their two children. Her hobbies include playing bells in a church bell choir for the past 30+ years, scrapbooking, doting on her grandson, and walking with her dog.
Peter Nora is a long-time resident of Scandia and owner of PN Products, a custom plastics manufacturing company he founded in 1984.
Peter grew up in Dinkytown, with parents who had immigrated from Latvia in the late 1940s. His family had a lake home on Big Marine Lake in the 1960s.
He attended the University of Minnesota before starting PN Products in the historic bank building in Scandia (now the Apothecary’s Daughter). As PN Products grew, Peter moved the business to its current location the industrial park.
Peter has served with many local organizations, including as president of the Scandia-Marine Lions and assistant fire chief of Scandia Fire & Rescue. He remains active on the Fire & Rescue team today.
He’s a member of the ski patrol at Trollhaugen, and was a past instructor with Courage Kenny Ski program. He is active in Elim Church, and is currently on Big Marine Lake Association Board. He joined the Scandia Heritage Alliance board in 2022.
Family is a high priority for Peter, who enjoyed raising two daughters in the rural lifestyle. He now has two grandchildren, and another due December 2023.
His hobbies include water skiing, biking, tennis, snow skiing, horseback riding, and formerly volleyball. He is active in family real estate and continues to have a strong interest in Latvian heritage.