EATON — After receiving a grant in the amount of $50,000, the Preble County Historical Society renovated its exhibit hall. The society held a dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting on Friday, Sept. 21.
In addition, the Sayler-Swartsel House was open for tours and there was a whiskey tasting with a presentation on the history of Indian Creek Distillery.
PCHS Director Misti Spillman opened the dedication ceremony by thanking people and businesses who contributed to the renovation.
“This project started last fall. The board and I made a list of projects and we decided to renovate the exhibit hall. After the holidays came the task of moving everything out. All of the textiles and documents were moved to the Swartsel House to be cleaned. It was a task to remove the musty smell and the mold off of the artifacts,” she said.
“The constant temperature changes had taken a toll on everything. The larger items were moved to the bank barn. After a work day in March, the exhibit hall was empty. By the middle of that month, construction was underway. This included framing, insulation, new garage, side doors, drywall, paint, and new light fixtures.”
“When the weather remained nice, the artifacts in the Bank Barn were cleaned,” Spillman continued. “By the beginning of July, the construction was completed. And the task of moving everything back in was under way, but we were moving the artifacts back into a climate-controlled building.”
“The idea for the exhibit hall is to be a constant rotating exhibit,” Spillman said. “One of the problems that small historical societys and museums have is that when someone visits they can check it off their list. By creating and installing new exhibits and receiving new artifacts on loan, we can keep people coming back to PCHS.”
“When you go through the exhibit hall today, you will see familiar things and new things. New things include artifacts from the Sara Swartsel family, because if it was not for her the society would not be here today,” Spillman said.
Progress is still continuing on the exhibit hall — one project yet to be completed is labels for all of the artifacts.
“History is not something obscure or unimportant. History plays a vital role in our everyday lives. We learn from our past in order to achieve greater influence over our future. History serves as a model not only of who and what we are to be, we learn what to champion and what to avoid. Everyday decision making around the world is constantly based on what came before us,” Spillman said.
“It matters how we building our communities and how we preserve them. Being thoughtful stewards of these places is hard work. But is is a job worth doing. We are not just hanging onto yesterday; we are building tomorrow. That is the message I want to send out today. Why? Because history matters.”
“Our mission statement is to be the resource to preserve and promote the knowledge and history of Preble County for all generations,” Spillman said. “We have accomplished that and this building is the example of preserving and promoting Preble County history.”
Board member Harold Niehaus took the stage to commend the exhibit hall and Spillman for all of her hard work, prior to the ribbon cutting and opening of the exhibit for tours.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH