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October 19, 2018

1/26/2018 3:11:00 PM
Gov't Center remodel project unearths interesting artifact

When John Jindra was asked if he could do a project for Chisago County that involved preserving a one-of-a-kind fragile, historic paper map that had been affixed to a wood backing, Jindra;  rubbing his palms together, said his first response was ‘let me at it.’  

He welcomed the challenge, commenting that he has done many framing projects at his Gustaf’s and Up North Fine Art Gallery,  that entailed much older materials in even worse shape.  

Jindra wrapped-up the project last week and awaits hearing where and when it’ll be hung on display at the Government Center.
Chisago County Administrator Bruce Messelt explained that the county actually knows little about the map.  He had Lin Strong, of the County Historical Society, assist in estimating the date of the piece, by researching the map-maker’s name A.L. Carlson.  He did a beautiful lettering job but omitted a date. Messelt said the mapmaker was active anywhere from 1860 to 1880.  A curious thing is that only railroad lines are depicted-- no major roads show on the map.  There is a grid of address blocks for each city in Chisago County. Interestingly, the grid for the layout of City of Sunrise covers twice the area of the Chisago City grid.  

The map was discovered in the county auditor’s storage during recent HVAC upgrades and reconfiguring of county offices.  Staff took turns working out of temporary partitioned spaces in the lunchroom for months,  while their work areas were gutted and rebuilt.  The wing on the front of the government center, perpendicular to the main building, saw offices rearranged, new windows installed and,  on the below-ground level, the County Board Room was rehabbed.  

The map, now newly-backed with cotton and a foam core,  is behind UV resistant plexi-glass in an art quality mounting.  It has a long, safe life ahead, Jindra said.

Separating the decaying map from its board which went much smoother than he feared at the outset, but there are a couple spots where loss is obvious, but it gives one a view of the hidden canvas.  The special plexiglas was located in New York and cut to size and sent to the gallery.  

The frame is original.  Jindra repaired some small imperfections and brought it back to life with multiple applications of Olde English,  with a coat of satin sealer.   


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