|January 27, 2015|
322 S Forrest,
About the Museum
The Douglass Historical Society and its museum are in the midst of a membership drive. Society President Frances Renfro reports that a family membership is available for only $5.00 per year and that annual patron memberships are $25.00. The mailing address is PO Box 95, Douglass KS 67039.
The Douglass Historical Museum is located at 314 S. Forrest. The Phone number is 746-2319. Hours are MWF 9:00-11:00 a.m. and 1:00-3:00 p.m.
History of the Douglass Pioneer Museum:
In 1950 a loosely organized group of ladies who deplored the loss of pioneer relics and memorabilia through the years and succeeding generations, decided to begin a collection of these things and display them in store windows during Frontier Days. Considerable interest was generated and the collection grew and was displayed in various rooms in the downtown area. The Douglass Historical Society was incorporated in 1957 with members: Iva McCullough, Inez Graves, Viola Dennett, Emna Purvis, Daisy Lamb, Walter and Eunice Martin, Vivian Woody, Turia Bolington, Edith Engle, Martha Long, JM and Mildred Guyot, Zach and Fern Bush, Delos and Julia Olmstead, Zerita Anderson, Ruth Howard, and Paul and Eva Guyot as well as Gladys Sherar.
The Legislature passed a bill for historical preservation in 1955. Money from that helped buy the building at 314 S. Forrest, which had been Sherar's Dry Cleaners. The Museum finally had a home at least as a stopgap. They also purchased 3 lots south of the then City Hall with the intent of building a museum. After some renovation, the collections were moved into the building.
The City wanted to build a new City Hall and discussion followed with the museum board about trading the 3 lots for the then City Hall building. This would make the museum twice as large. That trade was finalized in 1963. A double door was cut between the two buildings, the new city hall was built and the museum began to settle down. A new brick front was built across the front of both buildings unifying them with one presence. Mrs. Gladys Sherar was named curator, a post she held from 1950-1972.
Indian Relic shows were held under the auspices of the Douglass Historical Society and open houses were often. It was said that if the door was open you could come in and Mrs. Sherar would take you around and tell about various items on display.
Jean Sherar Valentine became curator after her mother and was in charge until August 2000. During these ladies' time, more items were added and history was collected, filling many file cabinets. We now maintain files on Douglass families and those of surrounding areas. Some contain only an obituary, but many are extensive family histories and are consulted by geneaologists from many places. There are also extensive local hisory files, which we update as new information becomes available.
In 1993-94, the northwest room was remodeled under the direction of Mark Alley. The ceiling was lowered, additional lighting was installed as well as a new furnace to serve that room. Stairs were built to access storage space in the attic. A gallery was included to display pictures of our ancestors. The whole museum was rearranged and offered a new look.
A new office space was arranged for Mrs. Valentine. As time passed, that was increased and now takes up about one third of one front room. A vestibule was included in the remodel and is an attractive space that displays four original paintings related to our history as well as a valued picture of the Lincoln Deathbed Scene. Shelving contains more historical information that can be utilized by the visitors.
The City, under the direction of then Mayor, Phil Anderson, raised funds and built the gazebo with the handicapped ramp to the south door on the land between the museum and City Hall. The garden was designed by Michael Courtney and built by the City.
The building is not air conditioned and so in August is closed during the hottest weather and the present curator, Mrs. Frances Renfro, takes her vacation. In the intervening years a second rest room with some storage has been added between display areas. Another restroom is handicap accessible. This year we have added four new ceiling fans to the back half of the museum.
We still receive historical preservation funds from Butler County and further funds from a list of member patrons who contribute $25.00 per year, as well as some donations from visitors. We still accept items of historical interest although we are becoming crowded and need more room.
We are now collecting material with the goal of publishing a history of this area. We intend that this shall include family histories as well as general history.
Our volunteer base waxes and wanes as societal conditions change. We can always use more volunteers.