Hard times for Owen County Historical Society Museum

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Financial problems could force closure of local landmark

By Molly Haines

Faces of Owen County’s past line the walls at the Owen County Historical Society Museum. Family snapshots, wedding photographs and pictures of local veterans are only a glimpse of Owen County’s rich past.

Owen County Historical Society President Jeannie Williams-Baker said despite the history that awaits visitors at the museum, if more Owen countians don’t begin taking an interest, the museum could soon shut down.

“Times are bad for everyone, and its trickled down to us,” Williams-Baker said. “We just can’t pay our bills, plain and simple.”

The historical society currently has about 175 members who pay membership dues of $25 a year, Williams-Baker said.

“The only other income we have is the sale of our books,” Williams-Baker said. “Our book sales were pretty decent through October, but now we do good to sell two a month.”

Williams-Baker said the museum itself has problems that the society cannot afford to fix.

“Our printer, scanner and copier is just about done for,” she said. “We spend a small fortune trying to keep ink in it so we can continue to make copies of the pictures people bring in for us. Our sewer line was stopped up. We were using propane to heat the museum but now we’ve switched to gas and that’s a big bill. And the ramp on our sidewalk is crumbling. It’s always something around here.”

Although the sign outside reads “museum,” Williams-Baker said the fact is, the museum was once a home.

“When you have a big building like this it’s just like a home,” she said. “This was once someone’s home and so you have all of the bills you have with a house, but with the business aspect thrown on top of it.”

Williams-Baker said since the museum opened its doors in 2006, visitors from as far away as Alaska and California have stopped by for a tour.

“People from out of town say they love our museum,” Williams-Baker said. “They’ll come in and look around and say, ‘We don’t have this type of museum where we’re from.’ I wish our local people could take that type of interest in us. A lot of people just aren’t history-minded anymore. I’d love to see some of the younger generations become interested in history.”

To keep the museum open, Williams-Baker said someone will have to step up.

“We need volunteers and we need more people to come in and help us keep the doors open,” she said. “We always need donations and if people don’t start coming through, we’ll just have to close the doors. The bills are going to keep coming in, whether we’re open or closed.”

Williams-Baker said those interested in volunteering at the museum should stop by and those who wish to make a donation can mail a check to the museum at P.O. Box 84, Owenton, Ky. 40359.

“We can give them a tax write-off on donations,” Williams-Baker said. “We can do tax write-offs on donated furniture too. It’s always appreciated and we’d be thrilled to get the help.”

The museum is located at 206 North Main St. and is open Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The museum also plans to begin opening Thursdays beginning Jan. 6. 

Donations can be sent to P.O. Box 84, Owenton, Ky. 40359.