Situated at the confluence of the Cottonwood and Minnesota rivers, what is now New Ulm, Minnesota, (population 14,000) was traversed long ago by the Dakota People and early fur traders. In 1854, a group from the Chicago Land Society selected the site for settlement. The name New Ulm was chosen for the region because many of the original settlers hailed from Ulm, Wurttemburg, Germany. Today, New Ulm still has a significant German influence and has been called both the “Polka Capital” and the “Most German of German Cities.”
The town of New Ulm was incorporated in 1857. It was nearly overrun in the Dakota Conflict of 1862, and a few of its building served as refuge for residents and nearby settlers who held the city. New Ulm quickly rebounded and was named the Brown County seat in 1887.
During the 1870s, four main industries grew to become the base of New Ulm’s economy. Flour, beer, cigars, and bricks were crucial to the economy of the community for the next half-century.
Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, the Brown County Historical Society Museum is located in the unique 1910 Federal Post Office building in the center of New Ulm. During renovation, the German Renaissance style (with its original slate roof) was retained. The museum features major exhibits on themes including the Dakota Conflict of 1862 and the history of Brown County from 1856 to present.
The New Ulm Heritage Preservation Commission, established in 1995, has the responsibility of recommending the designation of places and objects having special historical, cultural, or architectural interest in the community. A virtual tour of the city’s historic districts can be found on the commission’s Web site.
Designated a Preserve America Community in November 2006.