Old Oak Creek Town Hall could become museum

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— South Routt could have a new museum if the Oak Creek Town Board agrees tonight to lease the Old Town Hall to the Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg.

Having a building would provide much-needed room for artifacts, including documents, photos and other items, and would make it possible to display the artifacts and share them with residents and tourists, said Renee Johnson, president of the historical society.

"We have people waiting to give us stuff," Johnson said. "We will open those doors and it will be full."

Johnson also said that once the society has a building, it will be possible to apply for museum grants.

The society has written a grant application to the Colorado Historical Society asking for $200,000 to renovate Old Town Hall. If the Town Board grants the society's request for a lease tonight, the grant application, which is due Oct. 15, can be submitted.

The Old Town Hall would be a perfect home for a museum for several reasons, Johnson said, including that it is in downtown Oak Creek and that it has historical significance.

"It's the old Town Hall and we want to keep that," Johnson said.

Johnson said that older buildings in downtown Oak Creek give the town character and heritage and that it is a shame to lose buildings with a history, such as Oak Creek's old Rio Theater.

"That was another wonderful building that never should have been lost," she said.

"That's why we're fighting for this one."

Under a 99-year lease, the building would still be town property and would always belong to the town. The town would charge the historical society nominal rent.

If the historical society disbands in the future, the building would remain under the town's control, Johnson said.

The historical society has been focused on finding a building for a museum since its formation in 1998, Johnson said.

The museum would focus on the town's mining history, and in doing so could have a slightly different character from some of the other museums across the county, which predominantly focus on ranching and agriculture.

Also at tonight's meeting, the Oak Creek Town Board will consider an "Arrive Alive" program proposed by a group of parents. The program would provide rides home, within town limits, to teenagers who are intoxicated or cannot drive themselves home.

The Oak Creek Town Board will meet at 7 p.m. tonight at Town Hall in Oak Creek.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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