January – Looking into the dark depot from the outside last January, many thought the museum was gone forever. Your Bristow Historical Museum was closed, artifacts were boxed up, and the doors were locked. However, behind those closed doors there was a flurry of activity – grants were being written, display walls were being built and purchased, staff training was happening, and our dreams were growing by the minute! The Bristow Historical Museum was roaring back to life.
February – March –Volunteers worked hours and hours preparing exhibits, signs, and setting up office space for our Museum Director, Rachel Whitney. We also spent hours working both inside and outside the depot to insure it would be spotless for our grand re-opening in April. Bushes were planted, gardens created, floors were scrubbed and carpets cleaned. Over time, the depot became our second home as we fell in love with the building and history. We truly felt the spirit of every person who had helped saved the depot in the 1980s. Original board members Rosemary Leforce, Trudi Barnett, Bunny Baker, JoAnn Peeper and others came by often to offer advice and encouragement. We were determined NOT to disappoint them!
April – After months of hard work, the Bristow Historical Museum finally reopened on April 22. An over-flowing crowd filled the museum and picnic tables, caboose, and square outside. The busy day was beyond our wildest expectations, and we locked the doors that evening knowing that Bristow would never again be without our local museum. Since opening day, donations of artifacts have been strong and we appreciate the support of the Bristow community as you entrust us with your family’s items. We do not take that trust lightly and assure you we never will.
May – July – As news of the museum spread, the number of visitors increased. Soon we had over 280 visitors from 8 different countries and 25 states. We planted a Butterfly Garden that is now on the National Monarch Registry. The Morgan family held their 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration with us and it was a beautiful event for all. Once again, the Bristow Depot was becoming a community anchor – both for locals and travelers alike. We could not be more thrilled!
Aug – Oct – As summer ended and school began, students filled our museum as area schools brought classes. The BHS Class of 67 toured the museum during their reunion, and visitors continued to grow in number. We also won the prestigious National Collections Assessment Preservation Grant which brought in experts to tour our facility and provide us with advice to grow our museum into one of the finest in the state. Their advice will guide us for years to come.
Luckily, it’s not all work at the museum as evidenced by the visit of Outkast Paranormal, a ghost hunting group who collected data for several hours in October. Their results were pretty interesting, but you’ll have to swing by the museum for full details. Let’s just say Halloween was a little spookier after their reveal.
Your volunteers also held regular BBQ Drive Thru Dinners before home football games to raise much needed funds to begin making needed upgrades. Bristow supported us, and we sold out almost every Friday night. As always, every dime donated was put right back into protecting the artifacts and investment of our Bristow area patrons.
November – December – The Hank Hubler family donated computers and printer for our office, and we are now in the process of adding every artifact (and its story) to our digital database. Eventually this will enable online users to access our information and will also make research much easier. Our volunteers have been busy attending workshops and visiting other museums as we prepare for our exciting future. We are filled with thankfulness as we look back over our first year. Our volunteers have donated thousands of hours, and we are stronger and more excited about the future than we have ever been. Our president for the last two years has been Jon Johnson and although he is stepping down as president, he will continue to be an integral part of our team. Debbie Corwin, local dentist and history enthusiast, is the incoming president, and we are excited about the experience and dreams she brings with her. The crew at the Bristow Historical Society is determined to continue growing and teaching future generations about our heritage. The future is bright for the Bristow Historical Museum and we have you to thank -