Members of the Fremont Area Historical Society have plenty of new ideas for the Beaver Dam School Museum.
“The museum needs to take center stage now. We’re trying to pick special programs to do in the summer, to make them topical and then do the Christmas event,” said Matt Voigt, the organization’s president.
Last year, the former school and then town hall became a museum, after the historical society signed a lease with the town of Fremont to use the space.
The terms of the lease are $1 annually, with the historical society responsible for any maintenance costs of the building.
Following the election of officers this spring, a number of changes took place inside the museum.
Among the projects were the remodeling of the back entryway and turning one of the building’s two restrooms into a storage room, he said.
Part of the museum continues to look like the one-room country school it once was.
The desks represent three or four different eras of the school’s history and are arranged from oldest to newest.
Voigt said that will always be a part of the museum.
Among the permanent displays are one about the building and the students who attended the school and another about the Yellowstone Trail.
Of the school display, Voigt said. “We do have some blank spaces about who are in photos. We encourage people to visit, look at the display, and help identify people in photos.”
He expects the Yellowstone Trail display to grow, particularly because 2015 will mark the 100th anniversary of the trail reaching Fremont.
Trudi Hahn Pickett works on the museum’s displays.
The Fremont native recently returned to the area after living elsewhere for 45 years.
As she remembered the stores of the community’s past, she thought of an idea for a display.
That idea was to display memorabilia.
“We did a wall of calendars,” she said. “We had so many of them.”
The memorabilia display also includes shelves holding small, everyday items like yardsticks, coin purses and thermometers.
“They called them freebies. Businesses gave them out at Christmas time,” said Nancy Wendtland, the historical society’s vice president.
Another permanent display being established is a veterans’ corner.
Voigt said it will highlight different anniversaries of events.
Next year, the focus of that display will be on the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War.
With 2015 also marking the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, another focus will be interviews with Vietnam veterans.
The historical society has also developed interview sheets for veterans and is working to develop a complete list of those from throughout the area who served in the military.
Voigt said the organization will keep the interview sheets on file, by last name.
“So people will be able to research families,” he said. “As much as it will be a display, we hope it will be a research tool.”
Pickett said the group also wants the voices of area women heard, including how they served during wars.
“We have to find a way to formulate women’s history in the museum,” she said.
Voigt said the museum’s displays will change every year.
The museum is located at N7403 State Highway 110 and is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays, through Labor Day weekend.
After that, it will be open by appointment through September.
In October, the historical society will start getting ready for its Christmas open house.
This year, the descendants of the Charles and Mathilda Freer family will be honored.
In addition to the museum, the organization fills a display case at Fremont Village Hall.
Pickett encourages people to support their work.
“We need donations. We need people,” she said.
Voigt said they believe Fremont’s history is important as to who they are.
“It’s a great place to start learning a little bit about your family,” he said.