Historical Society offers progress and to operate Visitor's Center
Museum President Sue Tecklenburg and Vice President Dan Lutzick approached the Winslow City Council to explain the many things being accomplished at Old Trails Museum and how they would like to extend their efforts to help with the function of running the Visitor's Center in downtown Winslow.
The subject came up after recent questions of the Winslow Chamber of Commerce's effectiveness to spend the bed tax money appropriately. The chamber said it needs that money to keep them in the Visitor's Center and to pay for the advertising of Winslow; however, others like the mayor, maintain that the bed tax money could be spent on other things to improve the look of downtown.
"If the Council were to consider allowing the museum to act in the function of operating the Visitor's Center We feel we are highly qualified for this responsibility as we have knowledge of Winslow's past and present, and we are centrally located near the 'corner' which is Winslow's primary tourist attraction," Tecklenburg said.
In addition to their historical attractions, they feel they could also help tourism in Winslow as a Visitor's Center because they are now open six days a week and have a staff of dedicated volunteers.
Tecklenburg said that in the future, the museum could be interested in expanding their operations to be open seven days a week and also to provide a public restroom for downtown.
The City and the Chamber once met and invited the museum to move into the Hubbell Trading Post where the Chamber and museum would share the space. Since then the museum has opted out of that arrangement to focus on where they are for the time being.
"We thank the chamber their interest and the city for their consideration, but feel it is best at this time for the museum to remain in its present location. This decision is based on the desire to keep the downtown area intact, rather than create another vacancy at this time.
One potential Tecklenburg and Lutzick said could be possible, is for the museum to continue their current works in progress and then consider creating an additional museum in the Hubbell at a later time. This would be a separate destination for visitors in town and could create a draw of its own.
Lutzick told council that the museum recently was awarded a grant from the Arizona Historical Advisory Board and the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program.
"Both are key to the Santa Fe Railroad drawings archive that is owned by the Winslow Historical Society and is currently housed in the basement of the La Posada Hotel where they were abandoned for some years back as they were once considered worthless," Lutzick said.
For the past six years, George Shaw has been organizing and recording these railroad archives. These grants for the preservation of the archives show federal and state recognition of this work being done through the museum, Lutzick said.
These railroad drawings include everything from Albuquerque, N.M. to Needles, Calif.
"Perhaps in the future when we are looking for things to do in the Hubbell, there might come a moment when you should really consider housing those drawings and displaying them to the level they deserve," Lutzick said.
Another "feather in Winslow's cap," according to Lutzick, is the museum's collaboration with the Smithsonian's traveling museum show called Between Fences. The Winslow Historical Society worked to bring a Smithsonian representative to Winslow, whereby the town was chosen as one of six Arizona locations for this show. Between Fences is meant to be a history of how people in America separate themselves from each other using walls, barbed wire, chain-link, etc.
"The Winslow Historical Society will also create its own exhibition, having to do with fences and having to do with the history of Winslow to go along with the Smithsonian exhibition," Lutzick said.
The historical society has also been working more closely with the Arizona Humanities Council and that Lutzick said they are looking for a good rural "poster child" for future projects.
Tecklenurg and Lutzick presented a list of suggestions for Council that outlined some ideas the historical society has for improving commerce and tourist traffic not just around downtown, but for the entire Winslow area.
"We are at the moment where there are a lot of options for Winslow. We will move ahead on many of the suggestions we gave you. Whether if you consider us for operating the Visitor's Center or allow the Chamber to remain in there, we will still be committed to working for the improvement of downtown and the rest of Winslow," he said.
One idea Lutzick said, was that they could create a walking tour of downtown where artistic displays could be set-up around downtown to not only explain local history and culture, but to guide tourists around to area businesses.
"We would contact businesses such as Wal-Mart, Safeway, Days Inn and Holiday Express to place these exhibitions on a permanent basis," states the historical society's suggestion list. "The idea here is to utilize businesses that exist on the outer edge of Winslow to attract visitors who are just passing through and to try and get them to stay and explore."
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