July 24, 2014 at 3:22 p.m.
The Moody round barn, a Lofton Avenue historic site and park, admired and revered far beyond the township and county borders is the only erect round barn in Chisago County. It is believed there are no more than 12 remaining throughout Minnesota. The property has been added to the National Register of Historic Sites since the township and county historical society reached their agreement to buy 24.5 acres and designate the site in 2004.
The township put up a large investment from its pool of park dedication funds, which it had received from various land developers as they built in the township. Chisago Lake Township’s efforts to acquire the Moody land were supported by neighboring Franconia Township, which contributed some of its own park platting fees.
The historical society essentially signed a 99 year lease to operate the property, and over the first 10 years the group has funded tens of thousands of dollars to restore the barn and a Moody house built in 1920 – and originally located across Lofton Avenue from the barn.
The house now sits by the barn on the east side of Lofton, separated on the historic site by a former farm shed that doubles as a picnic shelter.
Moody Lake Park’s rural charm has attracted many tourists and the general public, but the historical society has communicated to township supervisors that it does not have funds for further restoration at the site.
At a monthly meeting July 15, the Chisago Lake Township board of supervisors voted to release the historical society from their agreement to further promote the Moody site’s history and heritage.
The town board announced another public hearing scheduled Aug. 19, where the public may further discuss the Moody property’s future. Among some options mentioned, the township may consider splitting the lot, separating the house from the rest of the park and listing the house for sale.
David Johnson, of North Branch, was the only society member who spoke last week, and identified himself as the historical society’s vice president. He stated that the house is worthy of preservation as a public space, but, “We could easily spend another $100,000 on that house, which we just plain don’t have.”