Historical Society History
Tom Duffey, the first president of the society is pictured with Lois Dalke, Pam Rucinski, and Bill Collar. The Cigar store Indian was carved and donated by Marve Dalke (1975)
In 1975 Tom Duffey, Rita Gosse, Lois Dalke and several other Seymour residents had the idea to organize a historical society. The bicentennial of our nation was coming up and these forward thinking people wanted to do something to preserve local history. The articles of incorporation state that, “The purposes should be exclusively educational and specifically shall be to collect and preserve records and physical objects relating to the history of Seymour and surrounding area. To this end the corporation may establish and operate a local history museum, a local history library and one or more historic sites...” The society was granted 501 (c) (3) tax-free status. Tom Duffey, Rita Gosse, and Bill Collar signed the original articles.
Several meetings were held, the organization was incorporated under the guidelines of the state historical society, and the railroad depot was obtained to serve as a museum. A wide range of people put in many hours renovating and converting the depot into a community museum. Generous citizens contributed items to display and many people made financial contributions. As the mission of the historical society grew, the depot became too small and the Miller-Piehl office building was converted to meet the needs of the society.
Once again, Seymour residents stepped up to make a difference. The Nagel family donated land on Depot Street to the city and many Seymour residents contributed to build a gazebo to serve as a gathering place. With assistance from the Home of the Hamburger and community organizations, Depot Street has become a vibrant area during the summer months, hosting the farmer’s market, festival, and concerts.
Thirty-five years since its inception, the historical society is active and in the process of raising funds for a new museum. The building will be more than a museum. It will be a learning center and community gathering place that will not only preserve the past, but also assist in making the future more enjoyable for Seymour area residents. The present museum is overcrowded and doesn’t meet the needs of those interested in doing family research, sharing local history with youth, or displaying an exhibit.
A campaign is now underway to fill the void with a facility that will serve the city for generations to come. The 1.4 million dollar project includes utilizing the latest technology to tell Seymour’s story. It also provides for a substantial operating fund. Detailed information is on this Web site.
How Can I Help?
The first thing you can do is become a member of the Seymour Community Historical Society. Since you probably are already a member, help spread the word and encourage others to join. There are many benefits to membership, but most of all, it provides a person with the opportunity to support the museum and stay informed on society activities. The quarterly newsletter communicates the activities of the society and presents local history topics and interviews. Through your membership, you help provide music in the park, new exhibits, and educational programs.
In 1979, when the society received perpetual status, 40 people were listed as members. Since then, membership has grown to over 200. A lifetime family membership in the historical society is available for $50.00. This figure was established to make lifetime status within reach of everyone. Lifetime business memberships can be obtained for $100.00. If a lifetime membership isn’t for you, consider joining for a year ($5.00 individual, $10.00 family). The society is grateful to members who continue to donate to the general fund to help cover operating costs. In order to join, simply complete the enclosed form and mail it to the society.
During the past several years emphasis has been placed on building a new facility. At first, an addition to the present museum was considered, but that proved to be impractical. Help the historical society reach our goal of 1.4 million by September 2010. About 65% of the money for the new museum has been raised. Your assistance is needed to complete the project. Call 833-604 for more details on how you can help preserve your family’s heritage by sponsoring part of the building or an exhibit.