Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Iowa Expands
Burr Oak, Iowa is just a few minutes away from where I went to grade school and where my parents still live. The population of Burr Oak is about 170 people, when everyone is home.
One of the little know facts about this little town is that in 1876 and 1877 Laura Ingalls Wilder lived in Burr Oak. Mrs. Wilder is of course the author of the very popular Little House on the Prairie book series. She was just 9 years old when Ma (Caroline), Pa (Charles), and older sister Mary moved to Burr Oak to help run the Masters Hotel. Laura's younger sister Grace was born in Burr Oak in May of 1877.
According to the Laura Ingles Wilder Park & Museum website Burr Oak is often referred to as the missing link in the Little House book series. The Masters Hotel is the only childhood home of Laura Ingalls Wilder that remains on its original site. It is registered on the National Register of Historical Places.
Now the former Burr Oak Mercantile building has been gifted to the museum by the museum's former executive director Ferneva Brimacomb. And although the mercantile was built in 1908, years after the Ingalls left town, the building gives the museum an opportunity to expand.
Offices and the museum’s gift shop are currently housed across the street from the museum in the old Burr Oak Savings Bank. The plan is to restore the mercantile building for the museum’s gift shop and offices and use the bank building as a Burr Oak History Center.
With this new expansion the museum now owns 4 properties in Burr Oak: The Master’s Hotel, the Mercantile, the Burr Oak Savings Bank, and the Advent Christian Church located at the entrance of the Burr Oak Cemetery.