A trip through local history

Much of the history of Hamilton County is once again available for public viewing. The Wilson Brewer Park Museum and Visitor Center opened for the season on Wednesday.

The museum has several exhibits and items that have been recently added. One of those new exhibits hosts antique cameras from the Webster City Camera Club.

The club was formed in 1961. George Shafer was one of the founding members of the club and was the only original member left when the club disbanded in 1987.

The club first met in the basement of Fuller Hall and later moved to the Senior Center. They moved their meeting place to the Museum and Visitor Center’s basement in 1982. The club would hold an annual photography exhibit in the basement with judging done by another camera club out of Fort Dodge. Entries consisted of both black and white and color photos as well as slides.

There are many antique cameras and photography equipment that are now hosted in the basement of the Museum and Visitor Center, which also hosts artwork from the Boone River Area Art Guild. The guild was formed in the early 70s, and disbanded in February of 2011. That group led a campaign to save the Depot Museum from demolition. It was moved to its current location on the corner of Superior and Ohio streets in 1971.

Much of the artwork that was done by the Guild remained in the basement of the Museum and Visitor’s Center. Facilities coordinator Cheryl Patrou said Museum and Visitor Center staff have been working to clean up the basement for a June 9 exhibit during a Boy Scout Ice Cream Social. She also said the artwork will be on display numerous times this year.

Several other pieces and exhibits that have not been seen for a while will also be available for viewing this year. The Museum cycles through the items they have on exhibit. One of those items is a wooden statue carving of a native american that was first put on display by a cigar and tobacco store in the 1800s. Patrou said the carving was likely made on the east coast by a professional carver. Similar native american statues used to sit outside tobacco stores identified the store for people who could not speak english.

The Museum and Visitor Center’s regular hours are Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The first large event at the Museum and Visitor’s center will be on May 11 for National Train Day during regular Saturday hours. The event will feature special guests Glen and Marie Cue, of Webster City, who used to work in the local telegraph office.