The Buena Vista County Historical Society is taking on a major project to renovate the west end of its museum building in Storm Lake, which currently serves as a garage and storage area.
The city has salvaged items from the former Illinois Central Railroad Depot, which is slated for demolition by the current owner, Canadian National Railroad. Historical Society officials plan to renovate a raised platform area of the building to house the items - including the ticket booth, a departure schedule sign and compartment cabinets. The society will be working with railroad history experts to gather information for the new 20-by-12 feet exhibit.
Renovation will also help meet a goal of allowing the museum building to be used to host more cultural events.
The museum building was originally a Ford Motor Company dealership. Part of the area to be restored was a loading dock leading to an elevator. Parts of new automobiles were delivered by railroad and lifted by elevator into the second story of the building, to be assembled as car orders came in. The finished cars were brought back down by elevator and driven out of what is now the museum's south entrance.
The renovation will include insulation for the garage area, new sheet rock walls surfaces and acoustic-tile ceiling, new lighting and a new entrance.
The area will be used for the historical society's Memorial Day program and meal, and the annual meeting in April, but can otherwise be available for educational events, performances and presentations, and can also be made available for public rental. The area will seat 85 people.
"We are in need of volunteer labor, to clear the area, and proceed with the carpenter work," says historical society President Marjorie Neulieb. "We are also looking for a small utility building to store a big grill and lawnmower."
The society is driven entirely by volunteerism. "If you have the talent and the time, we need you, to help preserve the cultural and physical aspects of Buena Vista County for future generations," Neulieb says. For more information or to get involved, contact her at 712-284-1704.