Oak Creek awarded grant

Old Town Hall will become museum, visitors center

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Oak Creek's Old Town Hall is going to be saved. By next fall, it should be transformed into a museum and visitors center.

The Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg learned Thursday that it received a $162,000 grant to renovate Old Town Hall and make it a museum.

"It's a giant step as far as preserving our history here," local historian Mike Yurich said.

The grant from the State Historical Fund means that Old Town Hall can be renovated -- it needs a new roof, floors, walls, windows, an electrical system and more -- to allow it to serve as a museum.

A small log cabin recently donated to the town also will be moved to the site and can serve as a visitors center with public restrooms.

The total project will cost about $216,000, with remaining funds paid by the historical society, funds from the countywide Museum and Heritage Fund tax, and a county donation.

"It's one of those things we've been working on for a long time, it's just unbelievable that it's happening," Yurich said.

The museum will be a "real home" to the historical society's archives, as well as the area's rich history, he said.

Oak Creek Mayor and grant writer Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman, who wrote the grant application, couldn't help but scream in excitement when she learned the grant was approved.

"I'm thrilled," she said. "It's awesome. I mean, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, that tunnel of wanting a local museum in South Routt."

The historical society's grant request was denied twice before, making the approval this time especially welcome.

"They really stuck with it and kept working with us, and they came up with a good application this time," said Alyson McGee, public outreach coordinator for the State Historical Fund.

The State Historical Fund awarded 75 grants for a total of $7.1 million during this granting cycle, McGee said. The State Historical Fund, which is a program of the Colorado Historical Society, receives tax revenues generated through limited stakes gambling that it then gives out as grants.

Rodeman said work on the Old Town Hall will begin in the spring and could be finished by the fall. Secondary grants will be pursued to pay for remaining interior work not covered by this grant, she said.

The Old Town Hall was built in 1927 to fulfill a campaign promise from a mayoral candidate running against the Ku Klux Klan ticket. The candidate opposing the Klan won, and the hall was built. It originally housed the town jail, and although there no longer is a jail there, two metal-barred cells remain in the building.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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