Judy Klatt spearheads renovation of Lynd History Center | News, Sports, Jobs

Photo by Mike Lamb Judy Klatt shows off one of the exhibits inside the Kiel and Morgan Hotel in Lynd.

Judy Klatt opened the door to Lynd history and walked in.

“Welcome home” she said enthusiastically.

She then walked from room to room inside the renovated Kiel and Morgan Hotel situated at the end of River Street in Lynd. Stopping to unwrap plastic from each exhibit so she can describe the photos, artifacts and memorabilia — all of which are part of Lynd history.

“Here’s our first city council when it was a village,” she said while pointing to a photo on the wall.

“This is who the city of Lynd is named after, and he’s buried over in Morgan, by Redwood Falls,” pointing to a photo of James William Lynd.

“And Levi Kiel and Allen Morgan are the two prominent businessmen who had it and built it into a hotel. And Levi Keil is buried in the Marshall cemetery.

The hotel was built in 1871 and also served as the seat of county government, post office, store and church. Today, the Kiel Morgan Hotel is considered a Minnesota historical site and is open as a museum to the public for tours by appointment.

The hotel served as a private residence for 90 years. Ray and Eva Schrunk purchased it in 1936. They later donated the hotel to the city of Lynd when they moved out in 1990.

Klatt is one of the main reasons the hotel is now the Lynd History Center that preserves Lynd’s rich history.

The building sat empty for years until the Lynd Community awareness group worked on renovations, including rebuilding the balcony that was previously removed. But the group dissolved and the hotel sat empty again and was vandalized.

Eventually, Klatt and other volunteers stepped in and once again renovated the inside of the building and opened it to the public in 2020.

“This is on the national registry and I was so interested in museums,” Klatt said. “I love researching.”

Klatt’s love for research shows as she continues into the kitchen.

“Here’s the old cookbooks that used to be in the Methodist Church up by the school. And no woman has a first name. They were always Mrs. Paul Mickensen, Mrs. Floyd Harris,” she said.

“Here’s our fire department, and here’s our first roster for the department,” she said pointing to the documentation. “We used to have a police department.”

Klatt talks enthusiastically at each exhibit.

“They found this in the ceiling. It’s like our own little time capsule. Look at this — 1935. It’s an election board they found in the ceiling. Isn’t that neat. And they all started writing big and then started writing smaller. And people will look at it and say, ‘oh year, I remember that name.’ “

Klatt has lived in Lynd for 35 years, but graduated from the Marshall Catholic school. Her respect for history continued through the years. She donated her school uniforms and items to the Lyon County Museum in Marshall.

“I don’t have any children, so when I’m dead, it (donated material) might go into the dumpster. Im had my uniforms and had my tassel and gave it all.” she said.

Klatt eventually married Carl Klatt and moved to Lynd. Carl Klatt served as fire chief for many years and eventually mayor of Lynd. He died last fall.

Judy Klatt says she continues to spend her time educating visitors to the history center.

“You get me started and I’ll go for another half hour.” she said.

One of her favorite exhibits and the story that goes with it involves a family that lived in Cam den.

“The mother and father were killed in their vehicle by a train,” she said. “They tore down the house. And here’s the kids. I’m sure they are all dead by now. That was so interesting.”

Klatt said most visitors find the school exhibit the most interesting.

“Here are all the school annuals,” she said, as she pulled them out of a metal cabinet. “They are in here because it’s mouse proof. This is the room everybody gravitates to. They love going through these old annuals. And they are so interesting because then they (visitors) start talking and then you hear more history of Lynd. And that’s interesting.”

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