The Allure of History
Bob acknowledge that he became interested in the site through Marveen's work as a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and later as the President of the Sibley House Association - an association formed by the Minnesota Society of the DAR in 1910 when it acquired the site.
Bob writes, "The historic importance of the site and its surroundings never cease to fascinate me," and it is this fascination that has fueled his continuous and creative leadership of the Friends of the Sibley Historic Site. He became the Friends' first president when the group was formed in 1991 and continues at that post even today! Bob and Marveen have provided a consistency of leadership through some difficult times in the history of the site. In the early 1990's highway and bridge construction closed the site for a year. The time, however, was well used in serious restoration work that was needed on the then 160-year-old site and dwellings.
In 1996, Marveen as a board member of the Sibley House Association and Bob as president of the Friends, worked closely together as the DAR secured the transfer of the site to State of Minnesota ownership. With the transfer of ownership the Minnesota Historical Society assumed the management of the site and received over 4,000 historic artifacts for conservation, including "Lion," the life-sized portrait of Henry Sibley's Irish Wolfhound by Charles Deas, which is one of the most beloved and valuable paintings in the MHS collection.
The importance and influence of the Friends group continued to grow and in 2001 Bob and Marveen led in the Historical Society's establishment of a permanent endowment fund for the purposes of preservation of the site and program development. The endowment grew steadily throughout the decade and has entered into a new phase of growth through a challenge grant. Again, Marveen and Bob have led the way with a major commitment to the new campaign.
"Program innovation" are the operative words as the site begins its 130th season with support from the Sibley Historic Site Endowment Fund. Whether touring the restored buildings, taking a trip in a voyageur canoe from Fort Snelling, or attending an outdoor jazz festival on site, the more than 6,000 visitors a year, including students, adults and other special interest groups, will be immersed in early 1800's Mendota and learn about this bustling fur trade region.
Bob and Marveen describe their feelings about the site, its past and future with these words:
"Through our work with the Friends organization we have developed a deep appreciation of the dedication on the part of the Society and its staff for the preservation of historical sites in Minnesota. When the Society proposed creating an endowment for the Sibley Historic Site we fully concurred with that endeavor. It is gratifying to us that our support of that endowment will help preserve this important part of Minnesota's history for future generations."