Coming soon: Jewell History Museum

Volunteers work to ready the former church to house community’s historical treasures

JEWELL — The sign in front of the former church building on Johnson Street in Jewell now reads “Future Home of the Jewell History Museum.”

A group of dedicated local volunteers is working hard so that the new local museum will be open to visitors by next summer. Then the sign will simply read “Jewell History Museum.”

The white frame church building has been home to several congregations over the years, most recently Victory Christian Fellowship. When that congregation outgrew the building and erected a new church several blocks away in Jewell, they approached the Jade Foundation in September, 2015, about donating the building for $1. The foundation had been considering establishing a historical museum in town.

After holding a community meeting to gauge interest in in October, 2015, the former church building became the property of the city of Jewell in May, 2016, to be used by the Jewell Historical Society, which had not yet been organized. Interested individuals started making plans at that time.

Since then, the group is now organized and moving ahead toward the goal of preserving the history of Jewell in the museum. “We’re making headway. We’re moving forward, not stagnating,” stated Bruce Johnson. He has been active with the committee ever since it organized and is now serving as president of the five-member board of directors. “We have cleaned the building and emptied it. The heating and cooling, plumbing, and electrical systems are all good.”

Now that the museum is qualified for the IRS 501(c) (3) tax exempt status, the board can accept donations for the museum–in the form of monetary donations as well as Jewell memorabilia, posters, ledgers, photos, clothing, tools, etc. Dick Steffen, vice-president of the board, is the contact for donations. Johnson stresses that donations of artifacts for the museum must relate directly to Jewell. The board has recently adopted an acquisitions policy.

Next on the agenda for the board is addressing handicap accessibility at the museum, a costly project. Johnson is sending out grant applications to explore funding sources.

“The Jewell Centennial Committee has helped us out in the past,” Johnson notes, “and we hope they will now.” Over the past several years, the project has also received grants from the Enhance Hamilton County Foundation, Hamilton County Tourism, and the IMT Group, plus several donations from private individuals. The project received a generous donation from the Jewell Lions Club.

“We’re working on getting display units for the building, but we’re not quite sure we know how to organize it all yet,” Johnson says of another current focus of the board.

Johnson is satisfied with the progress made so far in establishing a museum for the southern Hamilton County town. “The board is shooting to have it open to the public at least by Jewell Jubilee, the second weekend in June,” he states, adding that anyone interested is welcome to attend board meetings that are held at the museum the third Monday of each month starting in January. He can be contacted at the Jewell Historical Society, c/o Bruce Johnson, P. O. Box 142, Jewell 50130.