Boone County Museum celebrates 20th birthday

Sunday, July 18, 2010 | 8:57 p.m. CDT; updated 1:53 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 19, 2010
Bill Crawford, 93, showing historical newspaper clippings of The Walters-Boone County Museum's grand opening that took place 20 years ago. The museum celebrated its two decades with a party on Sunday afternoon.

COLUMBIA — The Walters-Boone County Historical Museum had its 20th birthday party on Sunday celebrating the rich history of the region with music, cake and a chat about the past. 

When Bill Crawford, 93, entered the museum, he brought with him an energetic gait, a cassette tape and a story.

"I have here in my hands The McLain Family Band cassette and song number one, 'I'm Working On A Building,' I would play it before each and every museum meeting," Crawford said. He was president of the historical society for eight years and has been a involved with the museum since before it was built.

Nearby, Bill Wulfe, 79, the museum's general contractor, nodded in agreement. 

"We had a lot of group meetings and although attendance was small, it was the perfect combination of people to work with and to get the job done," Wulfe said.

Wulfe, Crawford and other members of the Boone County Historical Society, a nonprofit organization committed to conserving the region's history, began planning and designing the Walters-Boone County Museum in the 1980s. 

At that point, Wulfe had already been in the building industry for 30 years and said he had a lot of friends in the business who helped get free or discounted supplies.

"It took about three years to build," Wulfe said.  "We got the spruce wood that surrounds the museum in Kentucky for half-off, and we have never before received a bill for the concrete used."

In July 1990, the Walters-Boone County Museum was completed, and Crawford said historical society members celebrated the 20th birthday the same way as opening day.

"There's still a band, soda pop, and the door's wide open," he said.

The Boone County Historical Society and the City of Columbia own four historic landmarks that they manage through donations and support  services.

The Walters-Boone County Museum, Montminy Art Gallery, Maplewood House and the Village at Boone Junction are run mainly by volunteers.

"There are only three people who work here who are paid and the rest are all volunteers," Crawford said. "It is a citizen-based operation."

Jenifer Flink has been the the museum's director and curator since January 2009. She said that "this has been the best sandbox a girl can play in." She says it is engaging to watch local historians and artists put together their exhibits, then pass their interests  along to children.

"Even though nonprofits across the country are struggling today, I am very proud of the Boone County Historical Society and the city to be able to continue the preservation of our past," Flink said.

"Everyone here has given ideas and items to keep the museum alive for future generations," Flink said.  "This birthday has been a wonderful turnout, and the volunteers, artists, historians and donors have seen their dreams come true."

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