Historians won't give up

Group trying for museum despite losing grant

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In late January, the Oak Creek and Phippsburg Historical Society learned it did not receive a grant to renovate Old Town Hall in Oak Creek and start a museum.

But the society quickly is reapplying to the Colorado Historical Society in hopes of receiving the grant in the next round.

"We were disappointed," said Peter "Mike" Yurich, the town's historical archivist.

"It's a project that I've been dreaming about for so long."

The grant for the $209,000 project was denied for several reasons, said Oak Creek Mayor and grant writer Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman, who wrote the grant.

The renovation-cost estimate was from 2000, and the state historical society wanted updated numbers, as well as involvement from an architect and project manager. The state society also wanted more recent letters of support from groups and people recommending the project.

Those requirements have been taken care of, Rodeman said, and the Oak Creek and Phippsburg Historical Society is scrambling to reapply for the funds by April 1.

The grant would pay for most of the project, with $15,000 coming from the local historical society's fund-raising efforts, another $10,000 from the Routt County Museum and Heritage Fund mill levy approved in November, and $5,000 donated by Routt County, Rodeman said.

The town has been supportive of the historical society's needs, she added, giving the society a 99-year lease on Old Town Hall to make a museum possible.

The grant would help renovate the Old Town Hall, which Yurich said is the most logical place for a museum. The building was built in 1927 as a campaign promise from the political party running against the Ku Klux Klan ticket. The party opposing the Klan won, and the hall was built, becoming the center of town activity and also the jail.

Oak Creek and Phippsburg have unique histories, with Oak Creek being a center of coal mining and Phippsburg being a center for the railroad, Yurich said. There are boxes of historical artifacts, such as photos, letters, trinkets, clothes, furniture, all of which are tucked away at people's homes and storage units, waiting for a museum to open.

"We don't even have a building locally where we can start housing this stuff and put up displays," Yurich said. "That's why it's important to us -- to really have a home.

"People are just waiting, waiting for us to set up, so they can give us items."

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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