Golden Gloves boxing was a huge thing in Minnesota in the 1930s and 40s. Some State School boys participated in the local program and our museum has quite a nice display of trophies, photos, and boxing gear. This is represented in a section of the Orphanage Museum.

The support of the Owatonna community was, for the most part, the boys’ first recognition as individuals. It buoyed their spirits and gave them a sense of pride and the personal attention they craved. The fans in the National Guard Armory cheered the individual Golden Gloves fighters on by their first name. The boys responded to the positive attention. As one man put it, “I became a somebody!” The Golden Gloves program went a long way to bolster the boys’ self-confidence and sense of identity.

This section of the museum came together organically; the “boys” wanted this part of history preserved. Before the City of Owatonna purchased the former State School site, the State auctioned off the contents. Twenty years later, when the museum began, founders Harvey & Maxine Ronglien started with few artifacts. Once the word got out about the museum, many former State Schoolers donated personal gear and trophies to help tell the story.


The Museum is fortunate to have many images from which to choose, including historic photos from the beginning of the State School in 1886 to photos of Harvey Ronglien at the School in the 1930s to photos documenting projects over the past 25 years that helped create this one-of-a-kind museum. The photos above are part of the Golden Gloves story.

2019 Review

We had 38 group tours come to Owatonna to visit the Museum this year. Some groups ranged from 10-12 people, but we had several large bus tours that brought 55 people at a time. There were 4 groups who came from Wisconsin on “Mystery” Tours. The first time they knew where they were going was when they stopped at our front door. We work with the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism to help promote these larger tours. And just about any day, people come on their own to visit. They find us through an online search or perhaps word of mouth. We’re happy to welcome tour groups of all sizes—1 to 55 or more!

The unveiling of the Maxine Ronglien Memorial Garden in September was a real highlight of the year. It’s a beautiful addition to the West Hills Campus. We look forward to Spring when it starts to bloom again.

Plan a Visit

Main Museum Hours

Main Museum hours are Monday — Friday from 8 a.m. — 5 p.m. (enter through the main entrance of the City Administration Building) and Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. (Enter through the Owatonna Arts Center on the west side of the City Administration Building. The museum is closed Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and all Major Holidays.

Cottage 11 Hours

Cottage 11 hours are from 1-3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. It is closed in January and February and also open by appointment.


Self-guided tours of the main Museum, Cottage 11 and grounds are free of charge. Group tours can be scheduled by calling 507-774-7369. There is a fee.

Visit our web site at

Anne Peterson is the Director of the Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum.

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