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Mouse River Park bar and cafe buildings are historic sites

Mouse River Park resident and former Country Mouse operator Louise “Snookie” Stark was sad about last week’s announcement by the Park board to take down the bar and cafe buildings after assessing the damages from 2011 flood.

9/14/11 (Wed)

 

Mouse River Park resident and former Country Mouse operator Louise “Snookie” Stark was sad about last week’s announcement by the Park board to take down the bar and cafe buildings after assessing the damages from 2011 flood.

 

Both buildings are registered as historic sites in the state of North Dakota.

 

“Those buildings have a lot of history,” said Stark. “I think that’s the seventh flood that bar has been in. I know the floor is bad, but I feel it could be fixed. It’s an historic site.”

 

In fact, the current Country Mouse Bar was originally used as the women’s building during the summer season and included metal cots for resting. The building provided a comfortable place to change a baby’s diapers or nurse an infant.

 

Mouse River Park has had a bar available to patrons for many years, however, and Stark said the cafe building was constructed to be the bar before the women’s building was converted, around 1940. “When my dad was 21 and 22 years old, he bartended in the cafe,” Stark said.

 

Stark ran the Park’s bar from 1983 to 1995, with the help of her husband Duane, under an agreement with Renville County. The couple made several improvements still appreciated by customers, including installing the fireplace and oil furnace for heat, building the corner stage for musicians, adding new windows with screens and constructing the deck on the east side.

 

“In the summer of 1981, I had so many people I couldn’t get them in,” Stark said. She discussed the issue with the county sheriff, who agreed to allow her to set up picnic tables outdoors if she personally would wait on customers there to prevent sales to minors. The addition on the east side was completed in the spring of 1984.

 

While her business was good, the condition of the Park’s residences was poor. “The Park had been through some floods and the cabins were in bad shape,” said Stark. “But once that dike was built, about 1990, people felt like they could fix up their cabins or build new ones. That was when we really, really saw the Park come alive.”

 

The Mouse River Park Board plans to have the bar and cafe buildings demolished this fall. Board members are reviewing plans to construct new facilities next spring, and they intend to continue providing both an eating and a bar establishment to Park visitors.