Online Tour

Explore Dakota City Heritage Village below. You’ll find a short history of a building by clicking on the number associated with it.

  • 01



    The Vermillion Bank was incorporated on September 8, 1917 when several local men decided that the Vermillion area needed a bank. The building was constructed for $2,500 in 1918 with furniture costing an additional $1,500. Local builders used brick on the outside with a pressed tin alloy on the inside. The 25’ x 40’ building weighs 150 tons. The interior of the building is divided into a lobby, president’s office, head cashier/ teller operations area and a walk-in vault with a safe. The building was originally heated by a pipeless coal furnace in the basement with the heat rising through a floor register.

    The bank opened for business on August 10, 1918 and it could accept deposits up to $150,000. In 1933, a steel wall called a “bandit barrier” was added. Tellers stood behind the barrier with bulletproof glass and steel grid covers in the barrier windows. The tellers accepted customer deposits through circular slots next to the windows. The steel door was locked during business hours and access was granted by the president or the head cashier using a “buzzer” door release. The buzzer is still visible in the president’s office behind the desk.

    The building was used as a bank until 1975 and then it was used as a real estate office and a lawyer’s office. It was donated to Dakota City in 1984 and moved to the Fairgrounds on July 31, 1985.

  • 02
    Barber Shop



    This building was built in 1903 by Dennis Gibson. It was originally located on Highway 3 in Rosemount and was only ever used as a barbershop. It was moved to Dakota City in 1994. The beveled mirrors behind the barber chairs and the carved woodwork are original to the building. The hand carved wooden barber chair is over 100 years old and was donated by a former Farmington barber. The other chairs are over 50 years old.

    The barbershop was primarily used for shaves and haircuts. Straight edge razors were used for shaves while hand clippers and scissors were used for haircuts. In the early 1800’s, barbers also let blood. The origin of the barber pole goes back to the days of bloodletting. The red and white stripes represent the bandage with which the barber wrapped his patient after bloodletting.

    Many barbershops had back rooms with bathtubs. Some men used these bathtubs before or after they had their shave and haircut. Shops made scrub brushes, combs, tooth powder, aftershave, and curling irons available to their customers. Dakota City’s bathtub is over 100 years old.

    The back room of this barbershop houses dentistry equipment. It was common in the early 1800’s and before for the barber to also be the dentist. This barber/dentist would have been good for pulling teeth rather than fixing them. By 1900, however, dentistry had emerged as its own profession. The University of Minnesota established a College of Dentistry in 1888. Dentists received a college education and they were able to do much more than pull teeth. In 1900, there were 5 dentists in Dakota County – 1 in Farmington, 1 in Rosemount, and 3 in Hastings.

  • 03
    Blacksmith Shop


    The original blacksmith shop that was donated to Dakota City was moved from Lakeville in 1965. It had been used as a warehouse for the Tabaka Brothers Hardware Store. There was a fanning mill in the warehouse where farmers brought their grain to be cleaned. The building was completely demolished in a storm in June of 1980. The building as it stands today is a reproduction using as much lumber from the old building as could be salvaged.

    A brick forge was built and fitted with an 1860’s bellows from Lakeville. All machinery in the shop is run off a line shaft donated from a blacksmith shop in Lakeville. This line shaft can be powered by a gasoline engine or by an electric motor.

    The windmill just outside the Blacksmith Shop is a 1988 addition to Dakota City. It came from Cannon Falls.

  • 04


    January 1856 – The congregation was organized. Five members delegated by a Reverend James Stirrat presented a petition to the St. Paul Presbytery to establish a church in the Lakeville district. Those members consisted of James Sayers, his wife, two children and Jacob Van Doren. The Presbytery then appointed Reverend J.A. Stirrat and a Reverend J.G. Riheldoffer and Elder Gray to organize the congregation. Thus the foundation was laid for the Vermillion Presbyterian Church and named because of its location in the rich countryside near the Vermillion River.

    January 1867 – The church building was constructed. In the years before the church was built, members met in homes and at the District #44 schoolhouse for services. On January 7, 1867 Jacob Van Doren presented a deed to the officers of the congregation conveying a parcel of land upon which to build a church building. Under the supervision of Silas Scofield the present building was erected at an approximate cost of $900. The money was raised by subscription. Some accounts mention that the winter of 1867 was exceptionally cold but that they were determined to have the church done by spring. For many years, the Presbyterians and Methodists used the church on alternate Sundays.

    Reverend Stirrat often traveled by foot or horseback from his home near Prescott, Wisconsin to the church near Lakeville in the early years, “a delightful walk of 27 miles.” (Quoted from “History of the Vermillion Church for the NW Presbyterian.”)“

    “In 1930, the Vermillion Church entered into a covenant to contribute financially to the Farmington Church and many from there joined the Farmington congregation since regular services were discontinued in Eureka.” (Quoted from the First Presbyterian Centennial Anniversary Booklet, November 28, 1965.)

    On August 1 1957 a Quit Claim Deed from the Presbytery of St. Paul, MN transferred the church and property to the Greenwood Cemetery Association. For some years later the building was used for occasional church services, funerals, memorials, etc.

    In the interest of the preservation of this pioneer church, the Greenwood Cemetery Association gave the building to the Dakota County Agricultural Society and in 1977 it was moved to Dakota City on the Dakota County Fairgrounds. The building has been restored and original furnishings that were returned include the chandelier, pews and organ. The church is still used for services during the County Fair, special events, and weddings.

    The cemetery was built in 2002 and it is not a real cemetery. No one is really buried there. The headstones are real and were donated to Dakota City for use in our cemetery.

  • 05


    This building was originally located in Dahlgren township in Carver County and was moved to Lakeville in 1870 to be used as a station for the Hastings and Dakota Railroad. The Hastings and Dakota Railroad line was built between 1868 and 1869 and was later renamed the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad. This depot was moved to Lakeville to replace a temporary platform along the railroad. The depot was moved to Dakota City in 1970. The track was purchased from a Texas salvage company. The building is divided into three rooms.

    Waiting Room:
    Passengers entered the waiting room to purchase tickets and wait for the arrival of their trains. People who wished to ship something by rail would transact their business with the depot agent through the window. The depot agent would accept the shipment and make a waybill. A waybill was a slip of paper telling the weight, date, price, destination, and the train car number for that object that was being shipped. The waybill went with the train car and was carried by the conductor. The blackboard tells the train arrival and departure times. The benches were provided for people awaiting the arrival of the next train. The stove would have burned coal for fuel.

    Depot Agent’s Office:
    The depot agent’s office is where the agent sold tickets, sent messages and did the book work. The depot agent knew Morse Code and sent messages to other depots with a telegraph key. Each depot had its own call letter. Morse Code is a series of dots and dashes. Each dot and dash represents a letter of the alphabet and the dots and dashes are strung together forming words. The train message hoop held a message tied on a string. The depot agent would hold the message hoop near a passing train and the engineer or conductor would slip his arm through and receive the message as a train went by.

    The Freight Room:
    The freight room was the place where the incoming and outgoing mail, baggage, and small freight were kept.

  • 06
    Drug Store

    Built in 1986, many of the store fixtures of 1930 and 1940 vintage are from county drugstores. Some of the artifacts are from the L.P. Fluke Pioneer Drug which was in business in Farmington in 1866. Other artifacts are from various drugstores in the county. The pharmacy has a good supply of old drug containers. Some chemical bottles date back to the early 1800s. The store carries an assortment of “old merchandise” such as cosmetics, cameras and tobacco products.

  • 07
    Fire Barn



    Built in 1990, the Fire Barn was designed to replicate Farmington’s first fire barn built in 1872. The first Farmington fire department was organized the same year and called the Eagle Company. This building contains the hand drawn hook and ladder wagons used in Hampton and Vermillion.

    There are also hand drawn hose carts and a 1929 W.S. Knott Universal fire truck. By the 1800s, firefighting had progressed from bucket brigades to carts and wagons drawn by men. Later these vehicles were drawn by horses. Steam engines were used until the gasoline driven fire truck of the 1920s became available. Fire fighters in small towns were volunteers until recent years.

  • 08
    General Store

    The General Store was moved from its original location at Holyoke and 208th Street in Lakeville to Dakota City in 1965. It was built by Frank Tabaka for rental property. At various times it served as an ice cream parlor, Pete Snyder’s shoe repair shop, and Frank Mahowald’s shoe and harness shop.

    In 1933 the building was furnished as a grocery store, and in 1934 Mrs.Frank Tabaka and daughter Mrs. Marie Heller became operators of the store, which became known as Tabaka’s Jack Spratt Store. It is now furnished as a general store of the early 1900’s with many donated artifacts that were commonly available at that time. The Bull Durham billboard was recently re-painted on the side of the store.

  • 09
    Gift Shop

    This building was built in 1861 as a schoolhouse for District 14 in Vermillion Township. In 1869 the school districts changed and the schoolhouse was sold. The building was bought by Lebanon to be used as a town hall and the building was relocated to the southeast corner of Section 26. The building was given to Dakota City by the city of Apple Valley in 1983. The building has been used to house various businesses. It is currently used as a Gift Shop in the village.

  • 10
    Harris House



    The Harris House was built in 1892 by Monroe and Orinda Harris, the great-grandparents of the people who donated the house to Dakota City in 1998. There were four square walls in the original house with a lean-to, or summer kitchen, added in 1915. The house was in the family for 131 years with family members living in it nearly the entire time, with the exception of a short time in the 1970’s when it was rented out.

    The Harris’ had ten children, eight lived to adulthood. The eight children and their parents lived in the house when it was first built. There were 3 bedrooms upstairs and one downstairs. The remainder of the house consisted of a living room and kitchen, common of farmhouses of the day. The kitchen would have been the most used room of the house. The basement was a dugout type with stone walls and a dirt floor. This type of basement was often called a fruit cellar.

    The house was heated by woodstoves with registers in the ceiling to allow heat into the upper level. Kerosene lamps were used for lighting the house. There was no indoor plumbing. However a pump was installed by the kitchen sink so that water was available in the house. The house was originally painted white. The hand pump on the side of the house is not in working order. It is the same type and style of those used when the house was built. The house was originally located between Pilot Knob Road and Flagstaff on 170th Street in Farmington. It was located across from what is North Trail School today.

  • 11

    The Randolph jail was built in 1904 by John Olson for the sum of $560. It arrived in Dakota City in 1991. The 14′ x 16′ x 9 1/2′ “lockup” was constructed of 13″ thick bricks with 2 cells inside. The woodwork was covered with tin to prevent arson. In the early days of Randolph, the peace officers were called marshals, and were kept quite busy. Later, Randolph had constables who weren’t very busy unless an emergency arose.

    The jail’s most frequent “guests” were those who had drunk too much or hobos who spent the night before catching the morning freight train out of town. Criminals were sent to Hastings to be locked up at the county jail. In the 40s the building was closed and sold.

  • 12

    This building was built in 1938 as the first church building of the Trinity Lutheran Church congregation, Farmington. It was used as a church until 1958, then it was used as a mortuary, school classroom, and church education program office. It was moved to Dakota City in 1982 to be used as the library. The “newest” books in the library today are copyrighted in 1920 and earlier. The card catalog actually works and can be used to find the location of a book.

  • 13
    McMenomy House

    The house was built about 1875 or 1880. Edward and Ann McMenomy were owners of the land when the house was built. Their children were: Catherine, Mary, John, Sarah, George, Edward B., Margaret, and Charles. Both Edward and Ann were born in Ireland. The property was sold to Harry Kirchner for $6,200 in 1918.

    The Pickens family lived in the house until 2004. The property was sold to a development company in 2004 or 2005 who ultimately gave the house to Dakota City Heritage Village. The house was moved to the Village on October 11, 2005. The house was originally located northeast of Rosemount quite close to the existing railroad right of way.

  • 14



    This building was built in the 1870s on the corner of Cedar Avenue and County Road 42 in Apple Valley. It was used as a school house for District 17 until 1904, when it was purchased by William Scott for $35 and moved one mile to his farm, using 8 teams of horses. It was used on his farm as a granary, storage building and later a playhouse. In the fall of 1988 it was moved to Dakota City and restored here. It currently serves as a Millinery Shop in the Village, where hats were custom-made for ladies of 1900.


  • 15
    Post Office

    In 1985 a replica of a late 1800 post office was constructed by the Glenn Guildner family. The screen-line (boxes and customer window) was reconstructed just as it was in the Frontenac Post Office from which it came. Other equipment is from area post offices. Behind the “blue gate” one can see how the mail was sorted, bagged and labeled for its destination.

    Many early post offices were located in homes and general stores. The earliest post office in the Farmington area was established in the home of Noriden Amidon in 1857 when he was appointed postmaster. This was located on the east side of present Highway 3 between 209th Street and Willow Street.

  • 16
    Print Shop

    Built in 1986 to house old printing equipment, the basis of the collection is equipment formerly owned by Robert Wilkie, a commercial printer from Minneapolis who moved to Orchard Lake. There are two pre-1900 open Gorden printing presses, a 1900 guillotine paper cutter, a proof press, an operational Linotype, a foot operated stapler and many drawers of type in the shop. The building represents a 1900s newspaper office where, as in early days, commercial printing was also often done.

  • 17
    School House

    This school building, District 96, was built in the southwest quarter of Section 13, Eureka Township in 1902. It replaced a previous schoolhouse that was originally built in 1892 and struck by lightning. This building was used continuously for classes until 1945 when the children were transported to Farmington.

    With the reorganization of the Dakota County schools in 1951, the one room schools went out of existence. This school district formally consolidated with Farmington Independent School District No. 192 in 1959, and this building was given to the Dakota County Agricultural Society by the district. It was moved to the fairgrounds in 1960. The school desks from St. Mary’s Catholic school in New Trier fit students in grade one through eight. The black jacket that surrounds the stove is from Grey Eagle Minnesota. A jacket was required for all rural schools to be eligible for state aid. A Red Wing pottery water cooler sits in one corner, and George Washington and Abraham Lincoln look down on the room form above the front blackboard.

  • 18
    Service Station

    This building was moved from Lakeville (was located on intersection of Highway 50 and Dodd Boulevard). Old-time gas pumps are also displayed in front during some fair events.

  • 19
    Ahlberg Hall Museum

    farmer & tractorhorse


    Dakota City’s Museum, located inside of Ahlberg Hall, houses an extensive assortment of agriculture machinery and early pioneer memorabilia, depicting social and rural history, with an emphasis on agriculture. The building itself was constructed of pre-cast concrete beginning in 1979. The outside construction was finished in 1980 and opened for display in 1982. The Dakota County Fair offices, the Dakota City office, a meeting room and climate controlled archive and artifact rooms are also located in Ahlberg Hall.

  • 20
    Wood Shop

    Coming Soon! Stop back for details!

  • 21
    Leather Shop

    Moved to Dakota City in November of 1990, the building was donated by Dwain and Lorraine Otte of Randolph. Originally used as a farm repair shop, it was located on the Russell Pflaum farm near Randolph. The building now contains harness and shoe repair equipment, much of which came from the Frank Mahowald Shoe and Harness Shop in Lakeville. Earlier in this century, such shops were an integral part of any rural community.

  • 22
    Village Hall

    Built in 1869, this building served as the New Trier village hall for 110 years. It was located in Hampton Township, four miles east of Hampton on Highway 50. A new community city hall was built by local citizens to replace the original village hall which was then donated by New Trier and moved to the Dakota County Fairgrounds on November 25, 1979.

    Our town hall has wall benches, and old stove, and displays relating to early government and politics. A unique voting booth with a circular curtain is located on the north wall. Long ago town or village halls were buildings where the business of the community was conducted by officials elected by popular vote of the people. Town halls were busy places on most election days.