Franklin County Historical Society opens new digs | Local News

Wednesday, March 2 was long overdue for Franklin County Historical Society board members.

Since October, they have been working to relocate and house their collection in their new museum located at 300 E. Locust St. in downtown Union. They finally opened their doors to the public on Wednesday.

The museum is usually closed in the winter, which allowed volunteers to prepare after its former location a block away closed in October.

With the warmer weather comes regular museum hours from noon to 4 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays and second and fourth Saturdays of the month.

It is also open by appointment.

“We have several organizations that will be using it at different times,” said Jane Van Leer-Stephens, secretary and treasurer of the historical society. “That way they can have the whole building.”

The museum had a low-key opening on Wednesday, with an official grand opening scheduled for June 5. The only fanfare was a cake for visitors.

Exhibits include several new items on Franklin County history, including exhibits on Purina Farms and the Pepsi-Cola bottling plant in New Haven.

They also have the sign that once adorned the new building. Popular items like the museum carriage have been moved to the new location. Van Leer-Stephens’ sons pushed him down the street to the new location. Next to it is an outfit that belonged to her grandmother.

As traffic flowed in the moments after the museum opened on Wednesday, someone was on hand to sign up as a new volunteer.

“I’ve always been in my family genealogy, so that’s something I appreciate,” said Barbara Bailey of New Haven, originally from Robertsville. “I’m retired so I have free time.”

The museum also accepts donations of Franklin County historical artifacts.

“We also loan things out,” Van Leer-Stephens said. “If someone doesn’t want to let go of something that belonged to their ancestors, we can loan it out for a while.”

With its old building slated for demolition to make way for a park on the wishes of late building owner Bob Hansen, the historical society launched a fundraising campaign last year to raise money for a new location. They were able to reach an agreement with Jan Schmelz, owner of several buildings in the city center.

The historical society is still running its “Save Our Roots” fundraising campaign to ensure the new location is its “forever home,” President Lynn Wagner wrote in an email.

Donations can be mailed to the Franklin County Historical Society, PO Box 293, Union MO 63084.

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