In The News

Veterans of the Civil War Exhibit at Otter Tail County Historical Society
Veterans of the Civil War came to Otter Tail County shortly after the war and made numerous contributions to the county as early pioneers, businessmen, township organizers and much more. This exhibit will explore their contributions to the county and the far reaching effects of those contributions. (Otter Tail County Historical Society, Fergus Falls, MN)

Jay Johnson, Founder/CEO of The Prospect House and Civil War Museum gave a presentation at OTCHS on February 21, 2014 to a group of Civil War enthusiasts. His presentation was about the life of James A. "Cap" Colehour, Civil War survivor, his great grandfather. On display at OTCHS is the life of James A. Colehour and the Prospect House when it was a hotel and home of James A. Colehour and family. There is also a display of a unique structure, Battle Lake Baptist Church, the church where James A. "Cap:" Colehour was a founding member.

For more information contact the Otter Tail County Historical Society at 218-736-6038.

January Thaw - Meet the Author
On January 25th, meet the author of January Thaw, Jess Lourey.

"Private-eye-in-training Mira James loves Minnesota’s crisp January days, as long as she can spend them in the arms of hunky Johnny Leeson. But when Mrs. Berns’s erratic Zamboni driving uncovers an icebound dead man, Mira’s cold-weather tranquility threatens to melt away.

With a frozen body in the lake and a freak January thaw descending on town, neither Johnny nor generous portions of high-octane comfort food are enough to ease Mira’s frazzled nerves. There’s big trouble brewing in Battle Lake. And if Mira can’t figure out who’s behind it, the next time she feels sub-zero temperatures, she may be sporting a toe tag in the town morgue."

Buy it Today

Pioneer Public Television Post Cards Episode
On Sunday, December 22nd at 7:00 p.m. CST, watch Post Cards on the Pioneer Public Televsion channel to hear more about the Prospect House.

Watch the Episode

"Watch the amazing family story of a Civil War veteran at the Prospect House Museum in Battle Lake. Hear the history of the Morris Movie Theatre and how it came to be a cooperative today. Discover the passion and beauty found in the paintings and jewelry by Marcella Rose from Pelican Rapids."


Saturday, June 29, 2013
7:30 - 9:30 p.m.
5:00 - 7:00 p.m. (Concert & Dinner)

Lakes Area Community Center
112 Main Street, Battle Lake, MN 56515

Monroe Crossing Band Photo

Monroe Crossing is coming to Battle Lake to put on a concert for the benefit of the Prospect House and Civil War Museum. Named in honor of Bill Monroe, “The Father of Bluegrass Music,” Monroe Crossing dazzles audiences with an electrifying blend of classic bluegrass, bluegrass gospel, and heartfelt originals. Their airtight harmonies, razor sharp arrangements, and on-stage rapport make them audience favorites across the United States and Canada.

Based in Minnesota, the group plays an average of 125 shows a year at major venues and festivals, frequently for non-bluegrass audiences — and people often comment that they’d never really liked bluegrass music until they attended a Monroe Crossing concert!

Monroe Crossing is made up of five very distinct personalities with differing musical backgrounds and tastes, combining for a very unique ensemble sound. They are Derek Johnson: guitar, lead & harmony vocals; Lisa Fuglie: fiddle, mandolin, lead & harmony vocals; Matt Thompson: mandolin, fiddle, baritone vocals; Mark Anderson: bass & bass vocals; and David Robinson: banjo. Their paths crossed through the music of Bill Monroe so they like to say they had a “Monroe Crossing.”

Call now and purchase your tickets through the Lakes Area Community Center (218)864-5222 – Reservations Only. Join us for the just the concert $17.50 per individual or purchase tickets for Dinner and Concert for $27.50 per individual.

The Prospect House and Civil War Museum has become a member of the Blue Star Museum Group. Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums across America. First launched in the summer of 2010, Blue Star Museums offers free admission to all active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day, May 27, through Labor Day, September 2, 2013.

Battle Lake museum may soon be on National Register of Historic Places
Detroit Lakes Online, Wednesday, April 3, 2013. By Vicki Gerdes

Nomination for National Register of Historic Places
On Tuesday, March 19, we received great news. The Minnesota State Historic Preservation Board met today and unanimously approved the Prospect House to be nominated for the National Register of Historic Places. The National board meets in May so cheer us on!!

Picture of Jay Johnson at National Register meeting

Our Nomination Photos

Prospect House on a possible path to the National Register
The Prospect House in Battle Lake is being considered by the Minnesota Historical Society’s State Review Board for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places, it was announced last week.

It is one of seven total properties from around the state up for consideration.

The National Register of Historic Places is the federal government’s official list of historic properties worthy of preservation.

The state review board will meet on Tuesday, March 19 at 6 p.m. to consider the nomination. This meeting is open to the public and will be held in the Cargill Commons Room of the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul.

Preservation office staff will present a brief presentation on the history of Prospect House and the board will entertain comments from people in the audience. Following discussion, the board will act on the nomination, rendering an opinion of whether the property meets national register criteria.

The Prospect House is located on Lake Avenue North in Battle Lake.

According to the nomination materials, Prospect House was originally constructed in 1887 as the Prospect House Hotel. In its day, the hotel would accommodate up to 100 guests in 27 rooms at $2 per day. It was nearer to the lake than any other hotels, and it offered pleasure parties, fishing parties, hunting parties, accommodating hosts and scenic picnic grounds.

It is now operated as a Civil War and house museum by the Friends of the Prospect House, formed in 2010.

Published March 14th, 2013 at Perham Focus

March 2013
The Minnesota Historical Society has informed Jay Johnson, that the Prospect House at 403 Lake Ave North, Battle Lake, Otter Tail County, will be considered by the State Review Board for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register of Historic Places is the Federal government’s official list of historic properties worthy of preservation. Listing in the National Register assists in preserving our Nation’s heritage. The State Review Board meets on Tuesday, March 19, 2013, at which time the nomination will be considered. The meeting is open to the public. Preservation Office staff will present a brief presentation on the history, correspondence will be entered into the record, and the board will entertain comments from people in the audience who wish to speak. Following discussion, the board will act on the nomination, rendering an opinion of whether the property meets National Register Criteria.

March 2013
The Minnesota Historical Society has awarded a Minnesota Historical Cultural Heritage Grant in the amount of $4,221 to the Prospect House Museum for the StEP’s Program Assessment Project.

Museum a Civil War treasure trove
Published Tuesday, February 19th, 2013. Fergus Falls Journal.

Join the ancestors of the James (Cap) A. Colehour family for a new display of antique valentines. Many of the valentines are over 100 years old. The valentines on display were also featured in “In Good Company” magazine’s winter edition 2011. This year, the Prospect House and Civil War Museum is celebrating 150 years since the Civil War, the year is 1863. Our special guests on Valentine’s Day will be President Abraham and Mrs. Lincoln. In 1863, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and he will be there to present this historical document. The hours for the display on February 14, 2013 are from 1PM – 6PM, serving light refreshments. Also, when you leave the Prospect House Museum treat your sweetheart/s to a delicious meal at the Shoreline Restaurant just north of the Prospect House Museum on Highway 78.

A new display was added to the Civil War Museum during December 2012 showing many details and pictures about the local G.A.R. chapter. The “Grand Army of the Republic” was formed in 1866 in Illinois, the year after the Civil War ended, as a re-union for Union soldiers. It was a forerunner of the VFW and gradually faded out of existence as the old soldiers rapidly disappeared. The average life span at that time was less than 50 years of age. The “Everts” Post No. 138 of the G.A.R. was founded in 1885 in Battle Lake by James A. Colehour and E. A. Everts, and was named after E. A. Everts’ father, Rezin Everts. The Everts Post sponsored a large G.A.R. Regional Encampment in Battle Lake in 1886. The few remaining Civil War survivors in Battle Lake disbanded the Post in 1900 due to declining numbers and poor health. The survivors were nearly 60 years old. James A. Colehour and E. A. Everts joined the “Stanton” Post in Fergus Falls – named after Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s Secretary of War. Everts passed away in 1916 and was buried with the Post’s G.A.R. flag on his chest. Colehour, the last Civil War survivor in Otter Tail County and of his regiment, passed away on Christmas Day 1938 and is buried beside his best friend E. A. Everts in Lakewood Cemetery, Battle Lake.

Also in December 2012 a new display was added to the second floor of the Prospect House showing some momentos, post cards and pictures of family members that attended the World's Fair in Chicago, IL in 1933. Cap Colehour lived in Chicago before moving to Battle Lake in 1882 and still had many relatives in the area at that time. Here is some original footage of the 1933 World's Fair:

Be sure to ask your tour leader to tell you the story of Andy the turtle!

Joint Gala at Prospect House Museum

Gala Photo

Working together closely, the Prospect House Museum and Otter Tail County Historical Society (OTCHS) raised almost $900 in a joint fundraiser gala in December. Two 1920’s-themed events brought people together over hors d’oeuvres, music and a bit of theatre for this $20 per-person fundraiser.

Chris Schuelke, director of OTCHS, donned a 1920s hat and tie to play the role of “Cap” Colehour, owner of the Prospect House during that time. As Colehour, Schuelke recounted the story of early life, Civil War days, work in Chicago, and the move to Battle Lake in the 1880s for health reasons.

Two talented musicians give solo performances in the beautiful furnished, holiday decorated living room. Jake Dyrhaug, consummate jazz pianist and pastor of First Lutheran Church in Battle Lake, played keyboard and led guests in a 1920’s sing along. On the second evening, Dan Carlson, Band Director at M-State in Fergus Falls, gave an outstanding performance on trumpet with music from the period.

During the evening, Jay Johnson, “Cap’s” great-great grandson gave tours of the four-story museum, including the Civil War room with artifacts, letters, and mementoes dating to the civil war. Johnson’s wife, Abby, greeted guests in 1920’s flapper attire replete with feather headdress. Johnson formed a nonprofit organization, the Prospect House Museum, in 2010 and turned operations over to the organization and its Board of Directors. The museum is open for tours year-around.

Both non-profit organizations would like to thank those who attended the gala events for their support.

For more information, contact: Reba Gilliand at 218-862-5510 or

From November 1 to December 24, 2012 the Prospect House & Civil War Museum is providing a traveling exhibit of artifacts to the ITOW Veterans Museum of Perham, MN.


1st Annual Old Fashioned Halloween Event

Battle Lake, MN (October 2012) – The Prospect House and Civil War Museum is holding its first official Halloween event. Join the ancestors of the James (Cap) A. Colehour family and step back in time for the treat of an old time Halloween. You might see a couple of Civil War Veterans!!!

Festivities begin on October 31st at 3:30pm and end at 7pm.

403 Lake Ave N.
Battle Lake, MN 56515


A Fargo couple shows the true meaning of endless love
Prospect House & Civil War Museum Board member, James Colehour Wilkins, celebrates his 97th birthday and gets married the next day.

Published October 12th, 2012. WDAY News.

The Prospect House & Civil War Museum is sponsoring a soda booth at the 2012 Minnesota Renaissance Festival in Shakopee, MN. Volunteers will be manning the booth during all 16 days of operation from August 18 through September 30. A percentage of the profits will be donated to the Museum by the Castle Kitchens Corporation. Come by and visit us at our booth across from the Children's Realm at the Fest!

Prospect House Museum Benefit in Battle Lake
Monroe Crossing will give a benefit dinner and concert for the Prospect House Museum beginning at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10, at the Lakes Area Community Center (LACC). The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $22 for dinner and concert, or $15 for the concert only. Tickets can be booked ahead by calling 218-864-4008 or purchased beginning at 5 p.m. on the day of the concert at LACC, 112 West Main Street. The benefit is for the Prospect House Museum in Battle Lake, a non-profit organization formed in August 2010. The Museum offers a glimpse of history beginning with the Civil War right though the early 20th century. It is located in Battle Lake at 403 Lake Avenue (Highway 78).
Published August 7th, 2012. Fergus Falls Journal.

Thanks to a generous donation the living room furniture was rebuilt and recovered with new fabric. The furniture was assembled as closely as possible to the 1930s era. Thus in July 2012 the living room was opened up to tours for the first time.

In early July 2012 two new road signs were installed on either side of the Prospect House driveway. They were a donation from Warren Colehour's memorials. The large and handsome signs add a missing feature to the tourist experience.

Road Sign Photo

The garden tour event of July 14 & 15, 2012 was very successful earning a large donation toward landscape renovation of the Prospect House grounds.

In late July 2012 six historical markers were placed around the grounds of the Prospect House telling the story of the early days of the Inn and showing pictures of the house in different eras. The markers were also a donation from Warren Colehour's memorials.

Yard Sign Photo

Yard Sign Photo

The Civil War 150 year celebration on July 28 & 29, 2012 proved to be an exciting weekend. There were Civil War reenactors, a teaching booth for making bullets, quilt and lace makers, Abraham Lincoln and two cannons. The large cannon was fired several times and if you were standing nearby you got a real feeling of what the original soldiers went through. There were many people walking the grounds of the Prospect House with the Museum and House tour being the epicenter of the weekend.

Cannon Photo

July 14 – 15 Garden Tour in Battle Lake, Underwood Published Thursday, July 6th, 2012. Fergus Falls Journal.

"Prospect House is a state and county gem" Published Thursday, May 17th, 2012. Fergus Falls Journal. By Mara Mackay

On March 1, 2012 Jay Johnson gave a fifteen minute interview about the Prospect House with KBRF radio station in Fergus Falls, MN. All reports were that it went very well and was very informative.

Great News! On February 13, 2012 we received confirmation of our 501(c)(3) IRS status, retroactive to the date of our founding in August 2011.

Cap Colehour's grandson, Warren Colehour, died on January 28, 2012 in Waconia, MN. This passing leaves James Colehour Wilkins of Fergus Falls, MN as the last surviving grandchild of Cap Colehour.

Warren Irving Colehour's Obituary

Colehour, Warren Irving 91, of Waconia, passed away on Jan. 28, 2012 at Ridgeview Medical Center. He was born at Deaconess Hospital in Minneapolis Jan. 21, 1921, the son of Robert Colehour and Alice Wardwell. He married Donna Sewell in 1942, they enjoyed almost 69 years of marriage before Donna's death in 2010. Preceded in death by his parents, two brothers: Robert and Richard Colehour; three sisters: Doris Plotnico, Bettie Crose and Barbara Pickering. He is survived by two sons: Corey Colehour (Joyce) of Littleton, CO and William Colehour (Jean) of Waconia; one daughter, Sally Myrom (Gary) of Redwood Falls; six grandchildren and nine great-grand- children. Warren graduated from Minneapolis West High School in 1939. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942 and served on the Destroyer USS Bailey, D.D. 492 during World War II. He was an Electrician Mate First Class during the war, serving in the North and South Pacific, taking part in nine campaigns. He was a 38 year employee at Northwestern Bell Telephone Company, retiring in 1978 as a PBX Installation Supervisor. He spent twelve years in Desert Hot Springs, CA moving to Eden Prairie in 1992 and Waconia in 2009. Warren was a member of the Richfield American Legion Post 435 and Lifetime VFW Post 5555. Memorials to the Prospect House and Civil War Museum (the ancestral home of Warren's grandfather), 403 Lake Ave N., Battle Lake, MN 56515. A memorial service will be held Feb. 2 at 1 PM at the Cremation Society of MN, Edina Chapel, 7110 France Ave. S. Private interment at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Cremation Society of Minnesota Edina Chapel 952-924-4100.

  Jason Davis of KSTP Channel 5 On The Road series comments: "One of Minnesota's latest museums is an unusual collection in Battle Lake. It's really an opportunity to visit a house that built by a civil war veteran that has been lived in continuously since 1882. And everything the family owned or collected, including an amazing display of rare civil war souvenirs and mementos is still there!It's current owner Jay Johnson, the great grandson of the builder "Cap" Colehour, shows us around the home that became a hotel that is now the "Prospect House & Civil War Museum."

  Steve Henning of Lakes Country Living has filmed and edited a 14 minute documentary about the Prospect House and Civil War Museum that is available on YouTube. Click on the picture to view the film.

On October 26, 2011 Jason Davis of KSTP Channel 5 News (Twin Cities), host and executive producer of the famous "On The Road" series, visited the Prospect House and Civil War Museum. He filmed the house and museum and interviewed our founder, Jay Johnson. Look for this to air on TV in the near future!

"Actors commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War" Published July 23rd, 2011 WDAY News out of Fargo, ND.

"Civil War history on display at BL" Published Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011. Fergus Falls Journal. By Tom Hintgen

"Love At First (& Second) Sight!" In Good Company, Winter 2011 edition. By Reba Gilliand

Our Founders Wedding
Wedding Photo

On the evening of March 2, 2011, our founder, Jay Johnson was married to his fiance, Abby Bizzett. The wedding took place at the First Baptist Church of Battle Lake, MN. The date was specifically chosen as it was exactly 100 years to the day that Jay's grandparents, Ernest and Kathrina (Colehour) Wilkins, were married. Jay's great-grandfather, James Allison Colehour, was a Trustee for the First Baptist Church and helped to purchase the chapel on November 1, 1884. At the time it was the only church in town where English was spoken.

Petticoats & Pistols Civil War Museum - A Work in Progress August 19th, 2010.