Ellis County Historical Society will split exhibits between Victoria and Hays
The company also organizes a fundraising evening
Corrected 11:20 a.m. Oct 8.
By Cristina Janney
The Ellis County Historical Society is moving forward with two major capital improvement projects.
The company had the mold in the basement of the brick church treated. The basement is being renovated and Amanda Rupp, executive director, said she hopes the archives and offices will be moved back to the basement by November 1.
An anonymous donation of $25,000 was made earlier this summer to help repair the church’s brick basement.
Once the main office is back in the brick church, the stone church gallery, which houses the Sternberg gun collection, will be open the same hours as the office. The collection was only available by appointment or during special events.
A ramp, funded in part by a grant from the Heartland Community Foundation, is also added to the nearby limestone church.
The society is applying for a Heritage Foundation grant to help pay for a $100,000 project that would repair mortar and structural cracks in the two churches.
This should seal the building and allow the company to complete the restoration of basement rooms that have exterior walls. Both churches would also receive new gutters.
Some of the money for mortar repairs will come from what remains of a donation from the Blender sisters for capital improvements.
Volga German heritage
The company will also soon sign a lease with the Victoria Community Coalition to rent space in Victoria’s former retirement home.
The company will use the front part of the building. The roof of the part of the building reserved for the company will soon be replaced. The company hopes to use the second floor as a warehouse.
The ground floor will be a gallery space, showcasing Ellis County’s Volga German heritage, including the county’s historic Catholic churches and small farming communities.
Rupp said she hoped the company could start warehousing items in Victoria by the end of the year. It may be a year before the gallery space is ready for guests.
Rupp said the company continues to fundraise for the Victoria project, but has already received significant donations dedicated to the project.
The Hays campus will showcase the area’s Wild West history.
“I think we have enough interest and support for both of them that those who are interested in the Volga German heritage can help us in this area and those who want to become more involved in the history of the Far West of the Hays can help with that,” Rupp said.
In the past, what was shown in the museum largely depended on who ran the board and their interests, she said.
The company has enough artifacts to support the telling of both stories, Rupp said.
“We have a very energetic board that does great fundraising, and I think they can put in whatever extra hours it takes to basically rebuild this thing,” she said.
Rupp said it was an exciting time to be part of the historical society.
“I tell people it’s not starting from scratch, it’s starting from scrap,” she said. “We have the collection. We just need to have a place to put it now.”
Fundraising for the quiz night
The company will host a Twist and Shout Trivia Party from 7-10 p.m. on Saturday, November 5 at the Hays Community Theater. Doors will open at 6 p.m.
Teams will consist of eight people with an entry fee of $80 per team. Fifteen teams will be accepted.
There will be nine categories. Each team will have 30 seconds to respond. Team members will write the answers on a dry erase board.
If you don’t know an answer, you can purchase your answer. If your team thinks they won’t be successful in a category, they can choose to buy an opportunity to double their points in that category.
Between rounds, there will also be physical challenges.
Prizes will be awarded to team members who win each category. Each member of a team will receive a prize if they win a category.
Prizes will be awarded to the team with the highest points using the fewest “cheats” purchased. Prizes will also be given to the team with the highest overall score who bought the fewest “cheaters”. The overall winner of the team will have their name engraved on a traveling trophy and each member of the team will receive a t-shirt.
Prizes will also be awarded for the best team name and team spirit.
Door prizes will be offered as well as a chili dinner. The cost of the meal is $8 per person. Spectators are welcome. A cash bar will be staffed by members of the Hays Community Theatre.
Early bird registration is due by October 31. Entry fees will go up to $120 on November 1st.
You can register teams online on the company’s website.
Funds raised from the quiz night will be used for operating expenses.
The Society will accept monetary donations at any time. General donations may also be accepted through the company’s website.
If you’d like to donate to a specific project, Rupp said she’s happy to accommodate those designations.
The society is also looking for general volunteers. An application can be found on the website or call 785-628-2624.
The company recently established an endowment fund with the Heartland Community Foundation. This will allow the company to grow its funds faster. It also allows the society to take advantage of non-monetary donations. Rupp gave examples of a grain load or an IRA.
Heartland is also part of the Dane G. Foundation network, which allows people to access free estate planning help if they agree to donate a certain amount of their assets to local charities, said Rupp.
“We have two big construction projects, but I think people are ready because we’ve been idle for a while. The county has increased our allocation, and the city has increased our allocation, and I think we’re really ready to get up and roll,” Rupp said.