The Swedish American Museum Center in Andersonville began as a storefront. Neighbors remember that the façade was made to look like a log cabin. When it opened in 1976, Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf came to the dedication. At that time, the collection included tools brought from Sweden and some other artifacts, both donated and loaned. Portraits of famous Swedes were placed along the walls.
In 1988, the Swedish American Museum purchased the Lind Hardware store building. The mission of the museum changed to focus on the Swedish people in Chicago. The rapidly expanding collections in the cramped quarters of the original museum had to be stored in basements and closets. Now, a permanent collection and a gift shop are open to the public.
The Lind Hardware store building was built by the three Lind brothers in 1926 when the Swedish Community moved north to Andersonville. A unique part of the building is the entrance hall with a wooden staircase. Each floor contained different kinds merchandise. On the fourth floor were toys, as well as the bookkeeper/cashier. When a purchase was made on any floor, the money was sent upstairs to the cashier in a dumb waiter. The change was then returned to the clerk where the purchase originated.
The store was a gathering place for many Swedish craftsmen, who stopped by early in the morning for coffee and to meet new immigrants. The connection to the Lind family has remained strong. Two grandchildren serve on the board of directors for the museum.