Sunday, October 18, 2009

LCHS gets museum update

The old “Days of ’76” museum building in Deadwood will soon come tumbling down, giving way to a modern two-story structure with climate control and room to expand the museum’s venerable collection of Old West and Native American artifacts.

Museum Board President Jon Mattson told some 40 members of the Lawrence County Historical Society Sunday (10/18) that the museum has raised about $4.5 million in cash and pledges. That’ll allow workers to proceed with demolition of the old museum beginning in November, and bids on a new structure will likely be opened in February 2010.

Mattson, along with Deborah Gangloff from the Days of ’76 Museum, spoke with society members during the LCHS fall meeting at Lewies’ Eatery in Lead. Deb and Jon (at right) paused for this photo after their presentation.

Mattson is hopeful that construction on the new building can begin as early as next March and be complete by March of 2011. The history of the Days of ’76, which dates back to 1923, is one of three major components for the new museum, along with the more than 50 old horse-drawn wagons and the historic Don Clowser collection of Old West artifacts.

The wagons, many of which have been featured in Days of ’76 parades over the years, date back to 1876 and include stage coaches, buckboards, and a variety of other horse-drawn carriages. While the old museum – which started as a storage shed – has provided a roof over the historic wagons, Gangloff says there is very little in the way of interpretive material because of limited space. That will be remedied with the new 32,000 square foot structure.

The Days of ’76 parade and rodeo are the oldest continuing historic attraction in Deadwood. The Deadwood Days of ’76 and the Days of ’76 Museum are incorporated separately, and each has its own board of directors.

After providing a narrative to an excellent Power Point presentation, Deborah Gangloff led a group of LCHS members on a special tour of the old museum. For many, this proved to be the highlight of the day! Take a glimpse in our Old Days of ’76 Museum gallery.

For many of the tour group, it was the first time in the facility – and likely the last – before the structure is demolished.

It was a rare opportunity to take one last peek at the building which has been home to these historic collections – soon to be replaced by a more spacious facility that can better accommodate the preservation and restoration of some of the best Old West artifacts in the country.