Thursday, October 14, 2010

Story of a Building

What is the history of this building?
Photo by Megan Sugden - Used by Permission
The building at left is located in Teien Township, Kittson County, not far from the Red River of the North.  It's all that is left of the unincorporated community of Robbin.

I have crossed the river by Drayton many times, necessarily passing this building but never knowing it.  Recently I became aware that it is now more apparent to passersby.

The photographer of the image above - Hallock resident and professional photographer Megan Anderson Sugden - shared with me what little she knows about the building's history:
Since I took the picture (back in the spring of 2009), the area has changed drastically...building the new bridge and re-routing the road. They have torn out all the trees and the building now sticks out much more with all the construction around it, but they are still keeping it intact because of its historical value. When I took the picture, it was more hidden, tucked in the woods that are now mostly gone...
Others who have shared memories of the building state they have been in the building for 4-H meetings,  had parents who attended summer day camps in or by the building, or been at dances in the building.

The letters in the symbolic design on the front look like MWA, which could indicate it was at some point used for a Masonic lodge, or meeting place (MWA stands for "Masters & Wardens Association"...)  However, the crossed 'hammers' encircled by two heads of wheat are not typical of Mason logos, which usually are made up of the square & compass, among others.  Maybe it was a Masonic youth camp?

UPDATE 11/10/15:

Modern Woodman of America – Robbin Camp, No. 5079, MAW

Just learned from Marcy Johnson on the Kittson County Historical Society's Robbin Page, the story behind this building:

The Modern Woodman of America used the building for meetings. They were a fraternal benefit society that would protect families and their financial futures following the death of a breadwinner. They also sponsored many community activities. Modern Woodmen of America was founded by Joseph Cullen Root in 1883. In 2010 this is the only building still standing in Robbin, MN.