White Bear Lake Area

Historical Society

Learning From Our Past, Preserving For Our Future

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About Us


The White Bear Lake Area Historical Society was incorporated September 25, 1970.

Throughout the year, events such as Pops on the Porch, an Ice Cream Social, Spring and Fall Programs and a Holiday Open House in December bring members together to celebrate the history and heritage of the lakeside community many of them call home.

The Fillebrown House and Depot Museum offer opportunities to explore the history of Minnesota's first resort town through two different perspectives. The 1879 Victorian Cottage at 4735 Lake Avenue depicts life on the lake throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries through tours from costumed guides. The Depot Museum at 4751 Highway 61 is still at the heart of a bustling business district for the community and tells its story through changing exhibits and displays.

The White Bear Lake Depot also serves as office space for our historical society and as a resource for the community. Artifact collections, documents and photographs are available for genealogists, house historians, journalists and other researchers to use in accordance with the Historical Society's policies.

Our quarterly newsletter, The Lake Area Preserver, keeps members informed of the exciting happenings within the society and the community. Special articles highlight different aspects of the lake area's past, and look toward new opportunities to preserve the present for our future. There is a little something for everyone!

Our Mission

The White Bear Lake Area Historical Society connects our community to its past, fostering an understanding and appreciation for our history.

We fulfill our mission by:

  • Gathering and maintaining historical information and artifacts.
    We are safe keepers of our heritage
  • Educating the community about our history.
    We are the community storytellers
  • Encouraging personal and community responsibility for preserving our physical links to the past.
    We are advocates for historical preservation.
The 2005 Board of Directors includes:

President - Holly Geck

Holly is our ‘president in waiting’ and we are very fortunate to have snatched her! She has done so much for us in the past 5 years….as the society’s Historian she serves as the queen of acquisitioning and assessions for donations and historical artifacts. Holly has solicited important donations for the society’s collections. She knows what to look for and also, equally important, when to say “no thank you.” She always plays a key role in the Spring Auctions, has hosted many teas and dinners.

Secretary - Corinna Morse

Corinna is one of our newest members. She recently moved to the neighborhood (across the street from the Fillebrown House) and, as she meandered across the lawn to see what we were all about, we were immediately taken with her infectious smile and enthusiasm and quickly enlisted her as one of our own. She is our Queen of Support. As an at-large board member she fills in a variety needs and cheerfully helps us fill in the important missing gaps.


Treasurer Pro Tem- Mike Parenteau


Past President - Mary Berger

I just started my two year term as president in January but I have been interested in the WBLAHS since I was a girl and my mother (Lois Gillen) was president in the late 70’s. I re-activated my interest as an adult when I joined the board about 5 years ago initially as the Program Coordinator. I have been very involved in the Spring Auctions, chaired The St. Paul Foundation membership grant effort, and serve as the community liaison for preservation.


Historian - Jean Woodberry

Jean is our In-House Empress. She provides the consistent tender-loving care necessary to maintain the interior of the Fillebrown House. You will find her washing floors and windows, organizing drawers and closets, polishing silver, and fighting the never-ending battle of the cobwebs. She arranges for spring cleaning and makes sure that the piano is kept in tune. Additionally, Jean plays a key role in education outreach and has been very helpful in developing interpretive activities for school age children in conjunction with our historical displays.

Fillebrown House - Peter Reis



Peter is our Out-House Guru. (Sounds a bit odd…but for those of you unfamiliar with our unusual vernacular ‘out-house’ refers to all the needed support and activity related to the exterior maintenance of the Fillebrown House and grounds.) You will see Peter on the roof spot checking shingles, hanging storm windows, applying his Master Gardeners skills in the yard, and trying any number of clever combat tactics against the pigeons who love to decorate the front porch. This spring Peter put in a tremendous amount of hours and physical labor creating an archival storage space for the WBLAHS in the City Hall basement. Peter has served on the Minnesota Historical Society Board for over 20 years. He recently made a major contribution to the telling of our own local history by writing White Bear’s Hometown Heroes: The Story of the White Bear Lake Volunteer Fire Department.

Fillebrown House/Asst. - Mike Campbell

This is Mike’s third year with our board. He has taken on the very important role of leading the Brick Paver fundraising effort. This project will provide funds for our upcoming roof replacement and will serve as an ongoing source of dollars for repairs and maintenance of our treasured Fillebrown House. Mike recently served as co-chair of the Spring Auction and offers continual assistance to the Out-House function.

Community Relations Liaison - Penny Norman

Penny is one of our new board members joining this year. She has taken on the exciting new Calendar Project. For the first time the WBLAHS will be creating a 2005 historic photo calendar of our community. Penny is coordinating support from the local businesses to make this a very successful fundraiser for us. Penny is also a terrific help with our many events and projects.


Tour Coordinator - Flora Lee Rauch

Flora Lee coordinates the Fillebrown House Tours. She is particularly gifted in the skills needed to recruit and train new guides. Her love for the FH and its stories and treasures are evident in her work. Flora Lee also provides regular staffing support at the depot and continually provides key support at our events.

Executive Director - Sara Markoe Hanson



Sara Markoe Hanson was raised in White Bear Lake and left for a short period to attend college at St. Cloud State University where she received a BA in American Studies and a MA in Public History. After college she married and moved out of state for a few years, but has returned to the area and is excited about her position with the WBLAHS. Her love of history and the opportunity to return home could not have blended more smoothly with the needs of the Society.

E-mail: Sara Markoe Hanson at WBLAHISTSOC@GoldenGate.net

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