New York Mills Regional Cultural Center

More From Minnesota

Reported personal experiences have been positive, gentle, yet memorable.


The New York Mills Regional Cultural Center can be found in a handsome, 2 story, rectangular brick building, with green doors and yellow trim, and has been very well taken care of since its remodeling renovation, in 1992. The first floor has large display windows, while the second floor has three sets of windows, fancy brick work, and a glorious decor designed roof line, with attractive dentils, sort of like the cherry on top! Its upscale appearance must have encouraged people to shop in the stores when it was built, which was the idea in building such a fine structure.


Inside, the visitor now finds two art galleries, a dance studio, and a gift store where the work of local artists is sold. One of the galleries showcases the work of local artists. There is also workshop space, to create in a variety of art mediums. New additions were added in 2002, including an outside deck area.

Looking at the events and classes taking place here, one can see that New York Mills Regional Cultural Center excels in giving opportunities to learn, to express and develop artistic inspiration and in offering inspiring exhibits of the arts as well. The New York Mills Regional Art Center offers a variety of artistic events and classes aimed at an inter-generational populace;brural families and individuals, as well as drawing people from outside the community, boosting economic growth.

For all ages, there are classes in the arts of all kinds, as well as music, poetry, theater, and dance, giving opportunities for practice and development of “artistic inspiration” in these popular areas of the arts, all year round. They also encourage the arts by hosting poetry readings, musical concerts, arts festivals, holding annual philosophy contests, and offering The Arts Retreat of the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center.

This Arts retreat program for artists “focuses on providing dedicated artists time for creative development and exploration.” The program offers “a unique taste of life in rural Minnesota while allowing the artists two to six weeks in which to immerse themselves in their artwork.”



The original one story building was built in 1885, to be the home for commercial endeavors, including a general store, and other retail businesses. Around 1905, the second floor was added, and basement was finished, to create more retail space to meet the buying public’s needs, in this growing agriculturally based community of mostly Finnish farmers; specializing in row crops, grain and dairy farming. A furniture store was the last commercial business in the building, before the structure became too dowdy and too much of a fixer-upper, and perhaps was going to be torn down to make room for a newer structure that might bring in more money.

What saved this handsome building was the dwindling commerce being experienced by the city businesses, causing some to close right on Main Street. While the town still had a boat manufacturing company that employed people, and was lucky enough to be in a town not far from recreation facilities, the number of farmers that made up the bulk of their retail customers was diminishing.

New York Mills has long been a farming town, whose economy depended on farmers to keep the economy healthy. Around the late 1980s, the decline of family farms caused major economic worries. This inspired a joint meeting of business owners, city officials and other interested parties to try to solve this very serious problem. Many hoped to come up with ideas to boost the income of the tourism industry, that could stabilize the finances of the town.

A young man, John Davis; from Twin Cities; MN, suggested that one of the older fixer upper opportunity properties located on Main St., that perhaps was on the road to demolition, be remodeled and renovated to create an artistic retreat and cultural arts center, that could become the revenue draw that could bolster economic growth in New York Mills, through tourism and perhaps develop a bigger artist community. Many small towns, such as Jerome, Arizona, and New Hope, PA. have a healthy economy, promoting and encouraging the artist community; drawing in interested people and artists as well, from everywhere. Both of these cities have a thriving art center, and/or a series of arts stores, run by neighborhood artisans, that supports a healthy tourism industry.

This idea was enthusiastically embraced! Things came into place to save the day! John Davis started a non-profit, Regional Arts Project, the property owner of this old mercantile store building donated it to the Regional Arts Project, who then in turn, started a campaign to raise private donations.

As the Regional Arts Project needed a boatload of money to renovate the building, the city council donated $35,000 dollars to this community-saving labor of love, hoping that this new arts center would bring people, tourists into their town to participate in the programs, and that artists may be encouraged to move to New York Mills and set up new businesses.

Thanks to community support, that included hours of volunteer work on the building, this little community treasure got a new, promising existence, and became ground zero for an economic stabilization for New York Mills.

Not only did people from outside come to participate in all the activities, but people did move here and start new businesses in New York Mills, all of which stabilized the economic future for this little town! Seeing the success of New York Mills, other small, struggling towns in Minnesota have been encouraged to start their own arts programs, and tourist drawing events.



People who commit suicide to find an escape from their unbearable problems, often don’t find the peace they are looking for, and are not willing to go into the light, finding themselves stuck in this world because of their unhappiness, or fear of punishment.

Urban legend tells the tale of a small business owner killing himself in the building, though there is no proof of this happening in the research done. The reported activity listed below doesn’t necessarily suggest that a suicide is causing the hauntings. Usually, the entity is still upset, and can create a negative energy, and the living can perhaps hear crying, and experience an unhappy soul (Hotel Adolphus). However, the entity could be in denial of his death or afraid of punishment, and just wants to be involved somehow in running a business (Copper Queen Hotel).

People who have invested their life in a business or job, sometimes like to stick around, not quite able to let go of their duties in this world, wishing to continue on in their work in some way.

Many businesses have called this building home throughout the years.

When a building is saved from its fixer upper stage of disrepair, it’s restoration can act as an environmental trigger, attracting spirits who loved the place while alive. They come back to enjoy their memories, and sometimes try to help the living run their business.

This building was saved in 1992, presenting to the community, a solid brick structure, with a newly renovated inside & outside, including refinished wooden floors. It became an attractive building once more, in the spirit of its original purpose; to encourage economic growth.

Manifestations listed below suggest a former business owner or two who are compelled to talk to the living, trying to give instructions, as well as supervise!



Unknown male or female entity; perhaps two entities:

Staff have felt an unseen presence in the room with them, perhaps supervising.

When working alone, Staff have had the experience of hearing a voice talking to them, perhaps giving instructions, directly in front of them.

Another staff member reported hearing disembodied voices having a conversation, but when she tried to find the source of the voices, she always came up empty handed.

Other staff members have heard an unseen presence walking around the wooden floors throughout the structure, but never found anyone living causing the footfalls.


Perhaps so. There has been some personal experiences published in books and on-line. We went to visit the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center, and Tom asked them in the gift shop if they had had any experiences. The staff there on this particular shift said that all was quiet, and they hadn’t personally seen, heard or felt anything. Perhaps the spirits try to stay out of the way of the living, while they secretly enjoy the economic success of this effort. While there is no evidence published, perhaps the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center had a private investigation at some point, and kept any evidence captured to themselves.

Many places with mild spirits don’t want to encourage “ghost hunters” to come, because it would distract from their main focus as a non-profit or for-profit business; as a historical museum;(Frick House), or would cause having their privacy invaded with requests to investigate their private home. Also, many haunted places don’t want the living to upset or stimulate their spirits, making their entities more active or harder to live with in the same structure.

Personal experiences from staff have been gentle, yet memorable, suggesting, the spirits are mild mannered, cordial and wanting to be a positive presence in this new enterprise, that is more successful and bigger than their own business efforts in this building while alive.

No psychic or scientific investigation has been published online.



24 Main Avenue N.
New York Mills, Minnesota 56567

The New York Mills Regional Cultural Center is found in the historic part of town, on Main Street, between a laundromat and the New York Mills Public Library. From Highway 10, turn onto Main Street.




  • Minnesota Road Guide to Haunted Locations
    by Lewis and Fisk, pg. 82-85
    Unexplained Research Company, 2005.
  • Art Talk with Jamie Robertson

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

Visit the memorable… Milwaukee Haunted Hotel




About the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center


New York Mills: The Lost Videos

Haunts in Minnesota