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History of the Daneville Heritage Museum


Timeline of Museum's History:

Several groups of area residents during different times in the 125 years-plus history of Viborg have expressed interest in forming a society for the preservation of genealogical and historical information about Viborg as well as establishing a place to display Danish and other pioneer artifacts, photographs, and documents.

Late 1980's:

George Hattervig and Palmer Peterson begin to look into establishing a local museum.

One of the more recent endeavors occurred in the late 1980’s when, in preparation for the Viborg Centennial in 1993, an effort was begun by the late George Hattervig, current local history buff Palmer Peterson, and others to secure a building to start a museum.  At that time, the only available building within the business district was the historical C.T.S. and Nanna Goodhope house on the south side of West Park Avenue between what then was the 1949 Viborg Cooperative Oil Company structure and the 3-story 1918 Viborg brick schoolhouse.  Regarding accessibility, the house was on a hill with a 5-step cement walkup to the ground level of the building and then another several wooden steps up to the front door entrance.  Once inside, most of the rooms were extremely small and stairwells to the basement and second story were very narrow and steep.  And, worst of all, the building was eventually condemned and scheduled for demolition because of asbestos content.

Unfortunately, as time has passed, countless local Danish historical artifacts and any stories that pertain to them have been lost.  And what a tragic loss that has been for what was at the turn of the 20th century the 7th largest Danish settlement in North America.


Moving forward to the turn of the 21st century, several residents again met to discuss preservation of artifacts and the establishment of a museum.  To the rescue came Phyllis Lockwood and her children Rhonda Lockwood Powell and David Lockwood with an offer to donate the building at 101 N. State Street that once served as a local veterinary clinic run by their husband and father, Dr. Ron Lockwood.  The building had been constructed in 1933 as Gross Hatchery by Joe Gross with an addition that served as a loading dock and storage area to the west end in 1937. The building had been vacant of a specific business for a few years while serving as a storage area for discarded and outdated shelving units, signs, and advertising displays no longer needed by a chain of convenience stores across southeastern South Dakota that were also owned and operated by the Lockwood family and operated today by David Lockwood with the corporate office located in another former Lockwood veterinary clinic building at the northeast corner of the intersection of W. Blaine Avenue and N. State Street. 

Palmer Peterson and other local residents removed most of the collection of stored items – salvaging what they deemed usable in the museum arrangement of displays – in preparation for a remodeling of the inside of the structure. The donation of the building occurred in 2002 with final documents signed and filed in 2003.  On November 4, 2002, The Daneville Heritage Association was issued a certificate of authority by the state of South Dakota as a nonprofit organization. The building opened to the public in the spring of 2004 with a minimum of displays. 

Over the years the museum has received countless artifacts, documents, photographs, and monetary gifts from interested citizens and near-and-far-away former residents to whom Viborg will always be “home.”


Former veterinary clinic building donated by Lockwood family to use as a museum.

Spring 2004:

First museum building  of Daneville Heritage Museum opens to the public.


Donation of District #46 Schoolhouse building by Warren and Mary Ann Nelson. 

Fall 2007:

Remodeled schoolhouse building opens to the public. 

Summer 2009:

Work begins on addition to museum building, donated by Alphie "Toots" Peterson.

April 2010:

First addition to the museum building opens.

Summer 2017:

Construction begins on the new Danish barn addition to the museum.


The first major addition to the museum was the donation in 2006 of the Daneville Township District #46 schoolhouse by Warren and Mary Ann Nelson.  It had been constructed in 1926 and was located one mile west and a mile and a half south of Viborg near the tracks of the Great Northern Railroad and a now dismantled historic overhead uncovered wooden bridge.  The school was closed following the 1957-58 school year and the district absorbed into the Viborg district.  The first project related to the relocation of the building that had stood for vacant for nearly 50 years was putting on a new roof before moving the structure into Viborg in March of 2007 where it was placed on a new foundation directly across from the front entrance to the First Baptist Church.  The FFA class from the local school then aided in the removal of the old siding and debris from the inside. 

Spring 2018:

Completion of the new addition to the museum.

July 19, 2018:

Dedication ceremony for the new addition to the museum, during Danish Days 2018. 

Following a major facelift both inside and outside – new permanent siding, rewiring, drywall installation and other necessary updates – and a donation of a school bell by Emma V Sorensen for the restored tower, the building opened in early fall of 2007.  Emma V, Alphie “Toots” Peterson, and Lester Lauritzen were major monetary donors for the project which cost in excess of $50,000 for land acquisition, moving expenses, and renovation projects.  The main floor classroom area now looks almost exactly as former students remember.  Many area residents have donated desks, books, maps and other old rural school items for inclusion in the schoolhouse collection.

The next major addition began during the late summer of 2009 and consisted of a 2-story add-on to the west end of the main building which extended the structure back to the edge of the north-south alley. The main floor of this addition provided space for the chapel, the Christmas room (including a collection of the Dickens London Christmas village set), the museum library, an art gallery representing the skills of Viborg-area artists in several genres, and a vintage clothing and sewing skills display area.  The lower level contains a 2-wall mural of pioneer history, tools, and farm-related and household appliances.  The over $80,000 project was a donation from “Toots” Peterson and opened in April of 2010.

The newest building - a Danish barn-like structure - was begun during the summer of 2017 and completed in the early spring of 2018.  All expenses were provided by the interest in historical preservation, family genealogy, and fondness for the Danish history of the Viborg area by the late Lester Russell Lauritzen. Born in 1923 and a 1942 graduate of Viborg High School, Lester left his entire estate to the Daneville Heritage Association.  This enduring gift consisted of farm land, the contents of the many buildings on his land (including his house), and cash accumulation over the course of his life. 

Click here to view all coverage of the Daneville Heritage Museum, in articles, on film, and in the Viborg Enterprise.

For several years, Lester R. Lauritzen (1923-2016), documented the beginnings of the museum, featured local history, and discussed heritage and historic preservation in a column for the Viborg Enterprise. Click here to view the archives of the DHA News column. 

Lester was one of the original organizers of the DHA and served as either treasurer or secretary of the association over the first dozen years of its development.  He also wrote a weekly column in the Viborg Enterprise newspaper for over 10 years in which he extolled the importance of family history preservation and reflected on the past history of people, events, organizations, buildings, and businesses of Viborg and the outlying communities of the Viborg area.  Lester passed away on June 8th of 2016, but the spirit of his presence, influence and generosity will last forever in the annals of Viborg and the Daneville Heritage Museum.  Please be sure to visit the collection of artifacts and photographs from his home and outbuildings that are on display along the east wall of the new building.

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