The Friends of the Sibley Historic Site is a non-profit membership organization committed to preserving and promoting the Sibley Historic Site, and keeping it open to the public as a cultural and educational treasure.
As a member of the Friends group, you can experience first hand how the Friends group works to maximize dues and donations into growing investments in the Site.
It is the mission of the Friends of the Sibley Historic Site
– to enthusiastically provide financial and volunteer support for the interpretation, development and preservation of the Sibley Historic Site and its artifacts and
– to foster awareness and appreciation of the site as a seminal cultural place in Minnesota history through public involvement, education and research.
In 2023 the Friends are sponsoring a new hands-on initiative of a traveling “History Chest” for off-site historic educational experiences being requested by schools and senior care facilities.
The Friends are also currently sponsoring Sibley After Hours events, a Friday night happy hour and education programs held at the Dupuis house and Fur Trade Weekend.
Other current and past Friends projects are listed below.
Sibley Site Landscaping
In 2023, Sibley Site Supervisor Jack Nord is leading the effort to remove old shrubs and update the landscaping around the Site in six areas. All new planting are native to Dakota County, Minnesota, and will more accurately reflect the flora of the 1800s. A large part of the funding for this project came from the Minnesota DAR.
The new landscaping around the Dupuis House will provide a delicate and dignified appearance while supporting native plants and animals.
Over 750 students visited the Sibley Historic Site during the ’21-’22 school year. The Friends contributed $3,480 to help fund these school tours. Please consider supporting a school tour.
Mendota After Hours
The Friends of the Sibley Site is a sponsor of the Dakota County Historical Society’s Mendota After Hours program. This series features fascinating stories of historic people, places, and events in Minnesota history in a unique and intimate setting. Many of the events sell out fast, so register now!
Sargeant Thomas Painting Restored
In 2022 the Friends provided funding toward the restoration of a painting by Sargent Edward Kirkbride Thomas, circa 1840, showing the intersection of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers (Bdote), including Fort Snelling and Pike Island (Wita Tanka). The Sibley Historic Site is in the center foreground.
A new replica of the restored painting can be viewed in the Sibley house.
1997 Staircase Construction
Sibley’s guests in the fur trade used an exterior staircase on the side of the house to enter the Sibley’s business rooms and to access overnight sleeping quarters.
Although the original staircase was lost for decades, the Friends helped to fund the design and construction of the replica Sibley House staircase.
The staircase project was one of the first fundraising actions the Friends undertook after MNHS took over the direct management of the Site in 1997. We raised the funds for the design of a staircase that would be historically accurate.
1990s Lion's Restoration
In the early 1990s, the Friends raised $1,000 to help fund the restoration of the unique, life-size painting of Sibley’s favorite dog Lion. Lion was the first known Irish Wolfhound in America.
This painting is on display in Governor’s Sibley’s office in the Sibley House. Lion’s restoration was undertaken as part of the Befriend an Artifact project by the Sibley House Association while they still owned the Site.
The Friends of the Sibley Historic Site have published three books for sale. You can order any of these books from the Dakota County Historical Society website, or pick them up at the Dupuis house gift store on the Sibley History Site.
Historic Mendota Before 1863—A walk through time where the waters meet
Take a walk through time where the waters meet! This book offers refreshing insight into a significant time of historical development in Minnesota, and specifically in the Mendota community – which some consider the birthplace of the state.
You can order a copy of the book HERE through the Dakota County Historical Society, or at the Dupuis house gift store.
Dakota Child, Governer's Daughter: The Life of Helen Hastings Sibley
Bruce A. Kohn
This intriguing story covers the life of Sibley’s daughter by his Dakota wife. Helen was a daughter that Henry cared about and supported, but never acknowledged officially.
Helen Hasting Sibley began her life among her mother’s Dakota people, then came of age in her father’s society. Through the transitions in her life, Helen Sibley reflected profound changes in the life of her father, Henry Hastings Sibley – the fur trader who became the first territorial congressman from and first state governor of Minnesota – and in the lives of the Dakota who once lived across southern Minnesota.
You can order a copy HERE through the Dakota County Historical Society, or at the Dupuis house gift store.
Six Miles from St. Paul
This biography of Sarah Sibley was a 2009 Award of Merit Winner! As the wife of Minnesota’s first governor, Sarah Sibley struggled to maintain relationships with family and friends across great distances. She demonstrated deft skills in managing a demanding household and leading Minnesota’s very first historic preservation effort. You can order a copy of this book HERE through the Dakota County Historical Society, or at the Dupuis house gift store.
The Friends also have a limited edition poster, “A Celebration in Mendota” by David P. Geister, for sale at the Dupuis house gift store. Stop in or send us an email for details on availability.
You can make a difference by getting involved in continuing the preservation of the Sibley Historic Site. Schedule a tour, visit our gift shop, and/or make a donation.
We welcome new members and look forward to adding you to the Friends of the Sibley Historic Site. Please join us!