The Auburn Historical Society is preparing a new exhibit for its museum at 41 South St., and they are looking for the public’s help.

According to museum director and president of the Historical Society, Sari Bitticks, the exhibit will be “Swedes of Auburn”, and it needs more items.

“Anything Swedish. Items not people. Someone offered us their grandmother, but we don’t have the room!” said the perennially jovial Bitticks. “We do have the obligatory horse figurine, but other Swedish items would be appreciated.”

According to Bitticks, the exhibit will run for about 3 months, then the items will be returned to the owners.

Swedes began to arrive in the Worcester area in the mid 19th century, and rapidly acclimated into the community.  Their population grew rapidly, and by 1920 Worcester was about 20% Swedes and their first generation offspring.

Quinsigamond Village near the Auburn/Worcester line was a significant Swedish “colony,” as it was referred at the turn of the century.  As the Swedish community contributed bsuiness people and spurred various cultural/fraternal associations, the Swedish influence grew. Of course, given Worcester’s – and Quinsig Village in particular – proximity to town, Auburn’s history has been influenced by Swedish culture. a fact that the museum hopes to highlight with this new exhibit.

One readily apparent and lasting influence in Auburn is Bethel Lutheran Church on Bryn Mawr Ave. Lutheran Christianity is the largest religion in Sweden, so naturally Swedish immigrants sought to settle their own Lutheran churches in Worcester. Bethel was founded in 1924, and continues its work today.  Auburn was also home to the Gift Chalet, a regionally popular Scandinavian gift shop located on Rt. 20 near the Worcester Fair Plaza on the Auburn Line. The Gift Chalet closed its retail shop in 2012, but continues to thrive in cyberspace selling through its website at www.giftchaletauburn.com.

If you have any items, or know someone who may, you can contact Bitticks at (508) 832-6856 or auburnmuseum@verizon.net. 

The Auburn Historical Museum is at 41 South St. in Auburn. They are open most Tuesdays and Saturdays from 9:30am to 12:30pm. Admission is free; donations are gratefully accepted.