December 5, 2007

The room at the back

photo by Leslie Pugmire Hole/copyright Redmond Spokesman

Redmond Library patrons, if they wander to the back corners of the building, are likely to come upon a sign on the wall -- “Jessie Hill School.” The more aware know that the library building was originally built as an elementary school but why is the sign hanging over the door of this mysterious back room?

Welcome to Redmond’s “history room,” depository of a small amount of Redmond Historical Commission’s bounty. Without a proper museum the commission must use this conference room/display area – and a few other places in town -- to educate the public about Redmond history.

Space is now at such a premium that the commission is forced to decline some donations for lack of a place to put it.

“We change out the displays when we can but we’re limited mostly to what can be fit in our cases,” said Kathy Clark, commission chair. Thievery of historical artifacts has been a problem in the past. “We’d like to do more interpretive displays but there is no supervision in the room and that makes it hard.”

The historical commission has used the back room since the library opened in 19??, but as the city grew -- and library patronage with it -- use of the room as a meeting space has increased, making it difficult for commission members to work in the adjacent office. Earlier this year the commission moved its offices to the Historic Redmond Hotel, along with some of its archival materials such as photos and documents.

The bulk of the historical pieces donated to the commission rely on the good will of folks around town, who donate storage space.

“Do you have any room in your garage? Do you want to be a volunteer?” joked Clark. “We’ve got stuff scattered all over town.” Whenever possible the commission displays materials where the public can see them, she said.

Photos are hung in city hall, the Housing Works building (Lynch & Roberts), Red Dog Depot and Applebee’s restaurant. A reed organ, once used at Redmond’s historic Presbyterian church, is currently housed at the former St. Thomas Church – a home that will likely be temporary because the church is for sale.

The commission has been lobbying for a museum for years with no luck but Clark refuses to give up hope. The city and commissioners continue to scout buildings in town and pursue funding possibilities.

“We getting there but it is slow,” she said. “Every one of us wishes it would have happened yesterday but my magic wand batteries died and I can’t find a replacement.”

The history room at the library is open to the public Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and Sundays noon-4 p.m. Historical commission offices are open 11 a.m.-1 p.m. every Tuesday, with materials available for viewing and research. Call 526-0554 to set up an appointment.

--story by Leslie Pugmire Hole

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