Researcher donates $140,000 to museum

Published 9:38 am Thursday, August 4, 2011

Kevin Savick poses next to a wall-mounted Alaskan lynx in this photograph from January 1993 by then-Tribune photographer Brady Kreger

Albert Lea’s historical researcher has issued a challenge.

Binders on this bookshelf are just some of the work done by researcher Kevin Savick and given to the Freeborn County Historical Museum. -- Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune

Kevin Savick wants the expansion project at the Freeborn County Historical Museum to become a reality. Sadly, this project won’t be completed for him to see and enjoy the results with the new facilities on North Bridge Avenue because he has a terminal cancer condition and maybe just a few weeks to live.

He has donated $140,000 to the museum and challenges community members to raise the funds to complete the project.

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In a statement made on July 22, Savick said:

“People don’t quite realize the importance of history. The last few years I’ve noticed the paper trail for history has been disappearing, which makes my research more important. I’ve dedicated the last seven years of my life to history.

“I (have) donated all my collectibles from Albert Lea and surrounding area to the museum. I’ve donated $140,000 from an annuity to the museum, and I’d like to see someone donate more to get the museum project in progress.

“The last seven years of my life have been devoted to Albert Lea history. I doubt if anyone has read over a hundred years of (local) newspapers, and all the different publications (from this era).”

In an added conversation he mentioned donating his cabinets and bookshelves to the museum and commented about all his research at the public library and museum. He said one of his wildest and latest projects was listing all the tenants in the six-story building that is now the Lea Center.

He said, “It was a hard one to do.”

Pat Mulso, executive director of the Freeborn County Historical Museum, said, “We appreciate the thoughtfulness and foresight that prompted Kevin to preserve history for future generations and hope others will consider following his lead. We have enjoyed working with Kevin as he researched the history of our county to leave a legacy for future generations.”

Photographs and frames in these tubs are just some of the images, documents and boxes of material that researcher Kevin Savick has provided to the Freeborn County Historical Museum. -- Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune

About a week ago, Mulso and several museum volunteers moved many donated items from Savick’s apartment to the museum. These items included display cases, a collection of Freeborn County advertising souvenirs, research based on various business locations through all the years in the central part of the city, 122 notebooks filled with copies of newspaper articles and his extensive photo collection (many framed) based on scenes of the past.

Savick’s research during the last seven years has been done with the microfilm readers and printers at the Albert Lea Public Library and at the museum’s library.

His lifetime obsession has been collecting. A graduate of Freeborn High School in 1974, he started collecting stamps and coins. This eventually evolved into pop bottles and beer cans. Then Savick became interested in wildcats and in the 1990s had acquired and had on display in his apartment what could have been the most distinctive accumulation of wildcat memorabilia in the nation.

For this and other aspects of his collecting, Savick went to antique stores and sales, secondhand shops and retail stores, attended collector events and made purchases by mail with dealers and individuals all over the nation.

He worked at the Scotsman Division for 13 years, and up to a short time ago was employed by Brick Furniture since December 1989.

“We hope others will follow his lead and make the museum addition a reality,” Mulso said.