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Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

Museum moving to street-level location

By Margie Wuebker

Minster Historical Society President Tony Frierott, left, and immediate past pre. . .

MINSTER - The Minster Historical Society will soon realize a longtime dream of having a museum in a visible location easily accessible to visitors of all ages.
The society plans to move in the coming weeks from the second floor of Francis J. Stallo Memorial Library to the former site of Magellan's Travel Agency in a village-owned building that also houses the Minster Police Department.
"We always felt there was a better location," president Tony Frierott says. "You have to come through the library and then up the killer steps."
Visitors and society members must climb 14 steps to a landing and then make their way up eight more steps to reach the museum which also houses a genealogy corner.
"The society was in the midst of a rebirth of sorts when opportunity struck," immediate past president Rich Stein says. "We were looking into signage to let people know there is a museum here, establishing regular hours and looking into the matter of more cabinetry for displays."
Officials heard about the street-level vacancy from society director Mary Oldiges after travel agency owner Barbara Frilling decided to move the business to her Fort Loramie-area home and attorney Doug Jauert closed his adjacent office.
The group subsequently contacted village administrator Don Harrod in early spring and learned a move might be possible. The resulting agreement involves a renewable 10-year lease with the Historical Society to make any improvements deemed necessary. Revamping the restroom for handicap accessibility is a priority at this point.
"We are really appreciative of this opportunity," Frierott says. "The town fathers certainly realize the importance of preserving and showcasing local history for future generations."
The new location is approximately 200 square feet smaller than the current site which is also in a village-owned building. However, the arrangement is more conducive to wall displays and the former law office will make an ideal area for genealogists doing research, according to Stein. With the police department next door, security should not be a problem.
The move, which could take place in a month or so, brings the society to the doorstep of what some folks refer to as the canal district. With renewed interest in restoration of the historic waterway, the future holds the possibility of canal tours, informative frescoes, special displays and increased hours.
"The role of the Historical Society is to spur interest and not to be the leader," Frierott says. "We want to make sure the history of the area is preserved and showcased for generations to come."
Stein believes having a storefront location will draw visitors to what he now considers "a hidden gem." Donations will be needed in the coming months to turn a dream into reality.
"We once had an opportunity to purchase the New City Hotel at the corner of Fourth and Main streets for a dollar," he says. "However, there was a potential for a lot of renovation expense that our treasury could not handle. This arrangement is doable."

Minster Historical Society information:
The Minster Historical Society organized in 1976 with Bob Hoying serving as the first president. Members initially met in private homes, at the New City Hotel and then at the Wooden Shoe restuarant. The upper floor of Francis J. Stallo Public Library became its headquarters. nearly 30 years ago.
The museum contains a number of special features including the original monument of noted church designer Anton Goehr, a collection of more than 18,000 memorial (funeral) cards, a unique canal scene carved into a log taken from the canal, bricks from the first church in the community and an array of Wooden Shoe Brewery memorabilia. Future plans call for the addition of Civil War and Indian displays.
Current directors include Tony Frierott (president), Mary Oldiges, Bob Thieman, Andy Phlipot, Ken Eiting, Mary Kramer (secretary), Ruth Hinker (treasurer) and Greg Oen.
Anyone wishing to join the organization at a cost of $3 per year or to make donations toward the new location and its displays can do so in care of the Minster Historical Society, P.O. Box 51, Minster, Ohio 45865. Volunteer help is also needed for the upcoming move. Additional information is available from Frierott at 419-628-2006 or Oldiges at 419-628-3164.
-Margie Wuebker
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