CHIPPEWA FALLS — As the Chippewa County Historical Society celebrates raising $1 million for new museum facilities at its future site, those behind the project said it’s a reminder of the overwhelming generosity of their volunteers and the community.
“We’ve had some really nice surprises from people who have just been really generous,” said Wendy Sullivan, co-chairwoman of the fundraising campaign committee, which is comprised of members of the historical society as well as the Chippewa County Genealogical Society.
“No one is paid at this society or any of these organizations; no one’s ever been paid in the last 50 years,” added Bob Hogseth, co-chairman of the committee. “Not only are they not paid but they’re giving a lot of their money away, the volunteers. They’re very generous.”
Because of contributions from volunteers, community members, as well as a donation of all $35,000 of sales for “Lake Wissota: The Dam Story,” a pictorial history book by authors Donna Bourget, Anne Keller and Jim Schuh published in early June, the capital campaign was able to reach $1 million as of Friday afternoon.
Any further book sales will also be donated to building the new history museum, which will sit at 12 Bridgewater Ave., on the south side of Irvine Park and the former site of a Dairy Queen restaurant. In order to begin construction, they must raise $2.5 million more in order to reach their goal of $3.5 million, Hogseth said.
“We have a good start,” he said, noting he hopes they can raise the remainder of the funds by summer 2018. “A long way to go, but it’s a good start. It’s a good milestone.”
The plans include a new two-story facility resembling the Chippewa Lumber & Boom Co. building that would be home to both the historical and genealogical societies, with a museum as well as a library, spaces for research and classrooms for educational classes.
For the past 25 years, the historical society was operating at 123 Allen St. on Chippewa Falls’ East Hill, a site that lacked handicap accessibility and adequate space.
Due to the potential opportunities for historical preservation and collaboration in an ideal location near downtown, Irvine Park and the Leinie Lodge, Hogseth doesn’t think the term “museum” quite covers what they’re planning.
“I’ve never used the word museum,” he said. “To me, that sounds stagnant, stodgy. It’s a history center, it’s for preservation and education, but it’s active. It’s going to be a flurry activity.”
For more information about the fundraising campaign or the book “Lake Wissota: The Dam Story,” go online to chippewaareahistorycenter.org or contact Schuh at 716-726-2376.
Contact: 715-833-9203, @SamanthaWest196 on Twitter