Over the weekend, my aunt came to visit the wonderful town of Owatonna. When she arrived, she told me she wanted to visit a state school in the area. I (being new to the city) knew nothing about this place but figured it'd be a great way to kill some time before dinner.

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I was pleasantly surprised by this local historical museum. The Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children is a fascinating piece of Owatonna's past.

Between 1886 and 1945, this orphanage hosted 10,635 kids, making it the third-largest institution of its kind in the United States. The school was completely self-sufficient in its prime.

The old buildings truly transport you back in time, and the grounds are stunning. After exploring the museum, you can enter one of the living cottages and envision what life was like for the abandoned kids.

What I admired the most about the experience was the dedication of the volunteers. Their passion for the stories and history of the place was endearing and made me all the more interested in the past. 

If you're in the area and haven't traveled here, add it to the list!

Self-Guided Tour Hours

Monday-Friday: 8am-5pm
Saturday-Sunday: 1pm-5pm

Cottage 11:
May 1-Labor Day:1pm-4pm
Labor Day-Dec 31: 1pm-3pm
Closed January and February
March 1-April 30: 1pm-3pm
or by appt. at 507-774-7369

If you'd like to schedule a group tour, head to the website.

The museum is free, but a $2 donation is appreciated.

The orphanage is at 540 West Hills Circle. The main building currently houses City Hall offices. 

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