Supported by a $7,650 grant, the Duluth Bethel today asked area residents to consider donating items they or their families have that could help preserve the history at one of the Twin Ports’ oldest nonprofits.
The 144-year-old Bethel began when missionaries came to Canal Park to minister to sailors and the community. Since 1912, it has been at 23 Mesaba Ave., where about 90 men and women receive substance-abuse treatment or participate in work-release or other community corrections programs.
The Bethel already has more than 2,000 photographs and news clippings documenting its history as well as that of its Recue Home for Women and Hillcrest House, which served women and infants, and the Lake Venoah Community, a rehabilitation center near Carlton. The Bethel received the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage grant to preserve and share the history of all four organizations.
“We have so much history and have helped so many people through the decades,” Bethel Executive Director Dennis Cummings said. “Now we want to share our story with our community.”
He added: “As we start, we’re reaching out and asking, ‘What’s your Bethel story?’ If your family was connected to the Bethel, the Rescue Home for Women, Hillcrest House, Lake Venoah, the Bethel choirs and Sunday schools or other programs, we’d like to connect with you. We would appreciate donations of any items that can be part of our historical preservation project.”
Items could include photographs, books, clothing, recordings of choirs and radio programs that originated from the Bethel or any other historically significant items. Cummings said the Bethel has not yet determined how the items will be shared with the public.
“Our first step is to gather the pieces,” he said. “That’s why we’re asking the public to think about what they and their families might have and how they could share their stories as part of our larger story.”
Part of the grant will pay for the Midwest Arts Conservation Center to come to the Bethel in January to review, assess and make recommendations about how to preserve the historical materials.
Duluth Bethel’s Cummings speaking at today’s press event: