The Richmond Hill Historical Society is on track to have a great 2009, according to President Brad Brookshire as he addressed the members during a recent club meeting.
The group hit a few bumps in the road last year but, with the addition of new board members, a plan to improve the museum, and upcoming programs and fundraisers and website in the works, the society is going full steam ahead for the new year."Our goals for 2009 include doing some community outreach to create awareness of our organization and to improve the museum," Society Vice President Sarah Volker said. "We are here to promote the strong history of this area, which becomes more of a challenge as more and more newcomers arrive here. We are here to connect the future with the past. How can you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been?"
There are immediate plans to improve the Richmond Hill Museum. One giant step toward this comes in the form of SCAD student Misty Hess. Hess is doing her internship at the museum as she works toward her MSA in Historic Preservation. She is working on improving the displays and getting the museum more organized and presentable, such as setting up a cross reference library to include the 800-plus historical photos at the museum.
Also in 2009, society member Jay Volker is slated to launch the museum’s website, which will include a virtual tour.
Last year, the Society teamed with the Richmond Hill Convention and Visitors Bureau to improve the museum but, due to a change of plans, the museum is now solely in the hands of the Historical Society. There are talks of working with the city though, as running the museum has proved to be a financial burden for the small group.
"The city has been very supportive over the years and have played a big part in making sure our doors stay open," Volker said. "That’s why we continue to act as an unofficial welcome center. We’ve been getting about 200 visitors a month at the museum – some local people and some tourists."
During a recent meeting, Mayor Richard Davis said the city is looking at assisting the Historical Society with the museum since the group is struggling financially, and "I think the museum is a very important thing to have in a community. He said the group currently has a $6,000 deficit in their budget. He said they have $30,000 in the bank that was willed to them, but that money could only be used for "capital improvements, such as purchasing historical buildings."
Volker said the account was created by one of the founding members, Dr. Leslie Long, and should prove to help the group as they move forward. She said it can be used for "anything that has to do with preservation, such as new displays."
The Society got back to a full board of directors during their Jan. 9 meeting by inducting new board members to fill the three vacant spots: Paige Glazer, Bob Izzo and Vicky Cooper. Volker said they will add nicely to the broad base of backgrounds within the board, which includes newcomers to the area and those who have been here all their life.
"Each officer and board member brings a distinct set of strengths and experiences to our organization and an understanding of the importance of holding on to the importance of the history of Bryan County," Volker said.
Among the programs the Historical Society will bring to the museum in 2009 are, in March, Bud Meeks will speak about the antebellum period in Bryan County. In April, a representative from Leconte-Woodmanston plantation will speak. Also in March, the Society is planning an oyster roast fundraiser at the museum.
Brookshire said another goal is to increase membership in 2009. The group meets at the museum on the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. For more information, call the Richmond Hill Historical Society Museum at 756-3697.