The Bay Area Historical Society Beaver Bay building, on the corner of Minnesota Highway 61 and Lax Lake Road, will be closing in the near future.
The Historical Society received an offer to purchase the building from Teresa and Keith Bartel, owners of the neighboring Beaver Bay Mini Mall and Agate Shop. The Bartels also approached the city of Beaver Bay with an offer to purchase the property on which the museum is located.
The city held a public hearing on the possible sale prior to the regular council meeting at the Beaver Bay City Hall on Tuesday, Aug. 6.
The Bartels made an offer to the society to purchase the historic Civilian Conservation Corps building, originally built in Finland, for $58,000. The building was moved to its current location in 1999 from Schroeder by the Historical Society.
The building houses several locally significant artifacts, such as John Beargrease memorabilia and a ship's bell from the steamboat America. Historical Society President Ed Maki said the organization has struggled to find employees and volunteers to staff the building for the past several years and to maintain the building.
"The biggest problem is finding people to work it and also the cost. It costs quite a bit to upkeep and we really don’t have the resources," Maki said.
Maki estimates that the Historical Society has spent $10,000-$20,000 on upgrades and maintenance to the building in the past 20 years.
The 3.6-acre plat is owned and currently maintained by the city. The Bartels made an offer to purchase the land for $48,000. The building is valued at $43,00 and the land at $23,000, according to Lake County's parcel information. The sale is contingent upon the city's agreement to sell the land. The deal has a potential close date of Aug. 16.
During the meeting, a some councilors and residents raised concerns and questions about the sale.
"I have some concerns about the Bartels owning any more land in Beaver Bay. And the reason why is because they buy up a lot of land and then file for bankruptcy," resident Ellie Korpi said.
According to court records, the Bartels filed for bankruptcy in 2011. The couple own the Agate Shop and Mini Mall.
"They do own several businesses here in town," Mayor Nancy Krull said. "And have been up-to-date with their bills to the city."
According to Historical Society Vice President Ruth Koepke, the Bartels plan to keep the building open as a museum and offered to keep items on display. The proposal also maintains that if the building is ever not used as a museum, the items inside would go to the city.
Those who don't wish for any items on loan or donated to the museum to go with the pending building sale can call the Silver Bay Information Center at 218-226-3143 to set up a time to take out their articles.
The Beaver Bay City Council chose to table the issue at the regular meeting. It will be discussed again during a special meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 13, at City Hall.