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S.O.S for Lakewood History Museum

Post by Brent Champaco on March 26, 2009 at 4:07 pm with No Comments »
March 26, 2009 4:07 pm

The Lakewood Historical Society needs help … fast.

The city’s first history museum — which opened October 2006 in the original Colonial Center on Mt. Tacoma Drive Southwest — says it needs about $25,000 to secure a lease for another year.

Becky Huber, president of the society’s board of directors, told me today that the nonprofit’s 250 members can’t pay for another lease alone. The monthly payment at its current location is $2,200.

The society’s lease runs through May 31st, and it wants to sign a yearlong lease before then. If it can’t, the 3-year-old center may have to close its doors.

News of the museum’s possible closure comes as it works with Clover Park Technical College to develop a permanent museum at a 1929 airplane hangar at the former Mueller-Harkins Airport. (That’s the college)

The $2.5 million restoration of the hangar will require a fund-raising drive and won’t happen until at least five years, Huber said. That means the historical society will have to find a way to survive in the meantime.

"The best alternative we have right now is to stay where we’re at," she said.

I visited the Lakewood History Museum today. To newcomers, it’s located in an outdoor shopping center and is sandwiched between other businesses.

Once inside, visitors can check out some of the restored furniture and displays members have set up. They include replicas of an early schoolhouse, a settler’s cabin and a 1930s-era newspaper office with post office boxes.

It has exhibits that pay tribute to the old Tacoma Speedway and Fort Steilacoom.

Despite its cramped surroundings — the museum offers about 800 square feet of exhibit space — it’s been pretty popular. In 2008, its second full year in business, it had almost 600 visitors.

Of course, none of them were charged for admission. They were only asked for a donation.

That may be one of the things the museum will have to change to survive the next year.

I’ll write a story for the print paper in the coming days.

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