Laird Norton Addition to the Winona County History Center, Winona



The best way to ensure a future for a treasured historic building is to ensure it meets the changing needs of its user.  Expanding the building’s footprint with a compatible and sensitive addition is a common approach and one that was undertaken by the Winona County Historical Society.

Since the 1970’s, the Winona County History Center Museum has been located in the city’s 1915 National Register-listed armory, which had been a gift to the society from the Laird Norton Lumber Company.  The building had served its purpose well, but six years ago, the History Center’s leadership began a campaign to add more exhibition space and additional space for public and private events. Thanks to the Laird Norton family and other generous donors, expansion soon commenced.

The resulting 12,400-square-foot addition by HGA’s Joan Soranno stretches out from the armory’s south wall via a corbelled brick colonnade referencing the armory’s recessed entry door. Atop the end of the colonnade is a second-story box clad in copper. The forms are crisply modern, but the materials are beautifully resonant with the armory.

Inside is an expansive new lobby—perfect for both functions and exhibits—finished with a salvaged-white-pine floor and ceiling. The sensitivity this breathtaking addition shows to its historic counterpart made the Minnesota Preservation Awards jury’s decision an easy one.

Owner: Winona County Historical Society; Architect / Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, and Civil Engineer / Lighting Design: HGA; General Contractor: Alvin Benike; Photography: Paul Crosby; Principal Funders: the Laird Norton Family.


The interior of the Winona County Historical Society addition

Winona County Historical Society

Winona County Historical Society before addition