Polson Museum to reopen its doors Saturday

Three months after closing in order to start a restoration, Polson Museum is just about ready for company.

On Saturday, John Larson, executive director at Polson Museum, will open up the two-story 99-year-old brown and white house — 1611 Riverside Ave., in Hoquiam.

The Daily World took a short tour of the worked-on spaces inside the museum. Larson showed some excitement in showing off all the hard work he and his staff have poured into the museum — an artifact itself — and its laundry room, servants’ stairwell and servants’ bathroom.

“I’m so glad to be done with this,” Larson said about the tireless hours museum staff put into the restoration. “It feels like we’re working on a house.”

While staff was still doing its finishing touches to the museum in preparation for the open house on Saturday, when the the public can view the spaces from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Larson explained a bit about the work done to the building.

That work included everything — from cleaning, repainting, polishing, reflooring and even cleaning the light switch plates — throughout the spaces. The process began in January.

“The tediousness, all these stairwell rungs had to be painted,” Larson said as he showed The Daily World the servants’ stairwell.

As Larson said, he’s just glad for this project to be done. The museum staff wasn’t just restoring a building, they were restoring a historic building. And, they’ve been doing it as they sort and archive a large donation the museum received months ago.

“It’ll be fun to show off,” Larson said about the spaces. “They haven’t been open (to the public) before.”

Outside of Saturday being an open house from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Larson will host a gathering he’s calling “No Foolin’” at 2 p.m. inside the museum’s main living room. Katie Lutz, adult services librarian at Hoquiam Timberland Library, will join Larson.

“We will present information on all manner of research tips, tools and places that people can find information on history related to people, places and events. We’ll share information on what resources exist locally in museums and libraries, as well as what can be found at out of town repositories such as universities, libraries and archives.”

Mary Thornton, secretary for Polson Museum, talked a little bit more about what people who come to Polson Museum will learn Saturday. One of those relates to Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps Online Checklist. The checklist provides a searchable database of the fire insurance maps published by the Sanborn Map Company, according to the Library of Congress.

“These are maps of our towns,” Thornton said. “You can see your house in a specific year.”

Thornton explained how you can look at the database and find if there were changes — such as a garage addition — made to specific buildings throughout Grays Harbor County.

As far as the restoration to the laundry room, servants’ stairwell and servants’ bathroom goes, Thornton said it’s been a long time since they’ve been worked on.

“The areas we worked on this time haven’t been done since before John (Larson) started here 25 years ago,” Thornton said. “The restoration gives the building a nicer presentation. Keeping this house preserved takes a lot of work. There’s always a project going on and to take an almost 100-year-old building — a 99-year-old building — takes a lot of hard work.”

And, it’s not just an old building, it’s the largest artifact the museum has.

Larson, who was being pulled this way and that on Wednesday, stopped and thought about what the gathering this weekend means.

“The open house is just a great way to explore their local history museum,” Larson said.

Contact Reporter Matthew N. Wells at matthew.wells@thedailyworld.com.

Red Car Raffle

In addition to the 2 p.m. gathering, Polson Museum staff is also launching the return of its “Red Car Raffle,” which took a pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2002, the museum has given new, red cars in a raffle that Larson said is quite popular. While the museum is launching it, the drawing won’t happen until later in the year. Larson will have more details soon.