Last month, the McCleary Museum had a home with the possibility of moving to another in the future. As of Oct. 1, museum leaders expect to be homeless.
About 35 years ago, the Carnell family donated the property at 314 S. Second St. with the stipulation that it be maintained and used as a museum.
Last month, the family asked that the house be returned.
“I don’t blame the current city administration or the current museum people. They all inherited this problem,” said Dennis Carnell, who spoke for the family. “The building has been deteriorating for the last 20 or 30 years. They haven’t done the upkeep. It’s just finally come to a point where we didn’t feel like we could let it go any longer.”
They asked the museum last month to vacate the premises, then granted an extension for it to stay until the end of September.
“They’re supposed to be running a museum. Our feeling is that if you’re open for one day a month … that’s really not running a museum in our mind,” Carnell said. In his opinion, “they need an infusion of money.”
Vidette columnist Linda Thompson is president of the McCleary Historical Society, which runs the museum.
“No matter whether we move or dissolve, we cannot do it in 30 days,” she said. “How do you take three buildings’ worth of stuff in 30 days and move it out?”
The rooms of the museum are packed floor to ceiling with displays about McCleary’s past. The forestry industry is well represented, as well as East County’s residents.
The museum board knows the house needs repairs.
“The house has never had a foundation under it. We’re looking into how much it would cost to put a foundation under it,” Thompson said. “I’ve also been told, last year, they did an inspection and there was mold in the beams under the house. I don’t know if that can be corrected. It seems to me that the house should be condemned if that is the case. Then why did the city help put a brand-new roof over it?”
For its part, the city says it’s looking into possibilities to salvage the operation.
“We are still in conversations about what to do,” Mayor Brenda Orffer said. “We have spoken with the historical society with a plan that the family would like. And we are waiting for the historical society to respond.”
Last month, there was talk of the city purchasing the unused McCleary United Methodist Church and using it as a welcome center for the city and to house the museum. At its August meeting, the City Council passed on that plan.
“The fact that the Carnell family is asking that the museum no longer be there because they don’t feel that the conditions have been met is a matter between the family and the historical society, not the City Council,” Orffer said.
Thompson said the Carnell family chooses to deal only with the city and not directly with the museum board. In a letter to the public posted on the museum’s Facebook page, Thompson addressed past repairs made to the buildings and the improvements still needed.
“The building currently needs painting and repair to the siding,” she wrote. “It has never had an adequate foundation. However, over the years, the Historical Society has replaced the bathroom and kitchen floors in the house that have deteriorated due to the lack of a foundation. The interior has been repainted and, with help from the City, it now has a new roof, with the cost of materials being provided by the Society. The Society has placed a new foundation and a new roof, and done other repairs on the detached garage. The Simpson Timber Company has added a new building to the property, which is in good shape structurally and now has a new roof.”
She says it’s physically impossible for the museum board to empty the buildings so quickly. The board has called a public meeting to discuss the matter at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 10, at the McCleary Veterans of Foreign Wars hall, 158 N. Summit Road.
Carnell said he’s hoping to just move forward.
“I think we’ll just resell it and put the whole thing behind us,” he said.