Comstock House to remain open
Moorhead's Comstock House will remain open, thanks to a donation from a Comstock family descendent and his business partner. Samuel Comstock's great-grandson, John Clemedtson, and Monte Kjos, owners of Comstock Land Co., Fargo, said Wednesday the...
Moorhead's Comstock House will remain open, thanks to a donation from a Comstock family descendent and his business partner.
Samuel Comstock's great-grandson, John Clemedtson, and Monte Kjos, owners of Comstock Land Co., Fargo, said Wednesday they will pay the difference of what the Minnesota Historical Society cannot provide.
Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said the Comstock House's annual operating budget is $26,000. Even if the site were to close, the Minnesota Historical Society would continue to pay $12,000 annually for basic upkeep, he said.
Although Clemedtson and Kjos have yet to work out details, they have committed to donate the remaining $14,000 for each of the next five years to allow the facility to operate.
"Because of my family connections, I didn't want to see it close," Clemedtson said.
In 1973, when Clemedtson was 11, he and his parents lived in the Comstock House for three months. Today, Clemedtson is the only living Comstock descendent in the area.
Without this donation, the Comstock House would have closed on July 1, Lanning said. Officials had until June 23 to work out a deal with the Historical Society.
Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland said he is thrilled to find out that the only state historical site in western Minnesota could remain open.
"I think this gives our community an opportunity to find a way to look way into the future and make sure we can keep the house open," Voxland said. "I think we're going to see some real positive things come out of this."
The threat of losing the Comstock House serves as a wake-up call to community members who can develop ideas to support the facility, Voxland said.
Robert Loeffler, the Comstock House's volunteer manager, said he had known for a while that Clemedtson and Kjos were interested in contributing. But they stayed out of the picture until it was clear what the facility's financial situation would be, Loeffler said.
"I think it's very important that we have such an important site in the city," he said.
Located at 506 8th St. S., the Comstock was built in 1882 by Moorhead pioneer Solomon Comstock.
The Minnesota Historical Society, which is coping with a $4.3 million budget cut, planned to close the Comstock House because of its low attendance.
St. Paul's James J. Hill House, another state historic site that was set to close, also raised enough funds to stay open, Lanning said.
The Minnesota Historical Society also announced Wednesday that it will request $300,000 in bonding money next year to repair the ice house behind the Comstock House, Voxland said.
Lanning said he's made it clear to state officials that Minnesota needs to restore its long-term support of the Historical Society.
"Once the state gets through this financial crisis that we've had, the state is going to need to increase its commitment as well," he said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590