Lockmaster's House Heritage Museum seeks funding

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Lockmaster's House Heritage Museum volunteers are busy preparing for the museum's re-opening on May 30. The Army Corps of Engineers enlisted outside contractors to renovate the historic landmark this past year. From left are Ray Black, Karilyn McArthur and Ann Fariello. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker 

In 1938, two duplicate homes, built to house the lockmaster, assistant lockmaster and their families, were constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on property adjoining Lock and Dam 10 in Guttenberg. The Corps lifted the housing requirement in 1972, leaving duplicate lockmaster homes up and down the Mississippi River empty.  In Guttenberg, one of the matching structures was purchased and relocated, and the other was vacated in 1990. 

In 1991, a group of visionaries formed the Guttenberg Heritage Society. The group's intent was to transform the former lockmaster's house into the Lockmaster's House Heritage Museum, showcasing the construction of Lock and Dam 10 in 1934, and Guttenberg's local history. Since its inception, the organization has leased the home from the Corps. The remaining home is the only surviving lockmaster’s house on the Upper Mississippi River, making it a unique historic landmark. 

Current Heritage Society members include Ray Black, president; Austin Greve, secretary/treasurer; Sara Pattison and Tim Oliver, board of directors; Karen George and Wendy Shea, grant writers; and volunteers Karilyn McArthur, Lisa Finch, Lowell Moser, Pat Krapfl, Chris Schoen, Dan Kuempel, Ann Fariello, Jane Elsinger and Joanne Finch. 

The museum's objective has transformed throughout the years as generous benefactors donated numerous family heirlooms and collections to the organization. "We inquired if the Corps would re-paint the outside of the structure and replace the roof," said Austin Greve. "They decided to work on the interior as well, and repaired the windows, walls and floors. We removed the contents of the museum and placed them in storage, editing the collection and returning items no longer in line with our vision to their original owners."

"We have developed a collection policy which will govern what we take in and keep a record of it," said Ray Black Heritage Society President. "We have purchased computer software with grant money we received from the Clayton County Foundation for the Future. The program will allow us to track and record our collections, members and museum management for many years to come."

The Corps of Engineers hired and paid for outside contractors to update and renovate the historic space. "The Corps hired a husband and wife team. The couple stayed at the Guttenberg Motel and worked on the project from May through October," Black noted. "We would like to thank Senator Joni Ernst, who recognized the importance of preserving the museum."

The Lockmaster's House Heritage Museum will have three exhibits on loan from the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, in association with the Smithsonian Institution, located in Dubuque.  The newly-refurbished space will house a hydraulic model of a lock and dam, a model of a towboat made into an interactive children's puzzle, and narrative and photo essay posters depicting life on a towboat. "We are excited to partner with the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. Just having the relationship is beneficial to our objective," commented Black.

"Thanks to a generous benefactor we were able to hire Edwards Creative Design to assist with museum layout, display and overall design, keeping us in line with our vision. The design outfit has a very impressive resume.," Black noted. "Eventually the living room will be totally modified and dedicated to a timeline on Upper Mississippi River commerce and conservation. The dining room will be dedicated to a timeline of Guttenberg history."

Fundraising efforts 

Museum board members are working toward funding to complete Edwards Creative Design proposed plan. "We need to generate $60,000 to complete our projected goal," said Greve. "Karen George and Wendy Shea have been pursuing many grant opportunities. We are hopeful our financial needs will be met. We are also waiting on grant money to help pay for a new heating and cooling system."

The Lockmaster's House Heritage Museum will re-open Memorial Day weekend. Museum hours are Tuesdays through Sundays, 12 noon -4 p.m. or by special request. For additional information call Black at 563-252-1954. If you would like to make a donation to the Lockmaster's House Heritage Museum, send a check to

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