Historical societies, like most organizations, experience their share of highs and lows. As the Almont Community Historical Society marked the 25th anniversary of the creation of their museum this month, and revisited their own history, it served as a reminder of the challenges they and likely every small town historical society face in their efforts to preserve artifacts, buildings, personal histories and more. The passage of time, the elements, funding and many other obstacles are ever present and it often takes concerted and repeated efforts to overcome them.
As society president Jim Wade noted in his June 22 column in the Tri-City Times, society members were committed to saving the former town hall in the mid 1980s but when that wasn’t possible, they threw their efforts behind keeping 149 S. Main Street where it had stood for more than 140 years rather than watch it be trucked away to Crossroads Village in neighboring Genesee County. As the result of a letter writing campaign, the generosity of an Almont business owner and an agreement with Genesee County officials, the building stayed and, since 1997, has been home to the area’s rich collection of artifacts, momentos, journals, photos, collections and much more. Those members who fought to make the museum a reality and those who continue to operate it deserve kudos for their commitment to the cause.
The Tri-City area is fortunate to have quality museums in each of its four communities—Almont, Capac, Dryden and Imlay City. They serve many important roles as keepers of local history, educational sources for visitors of all ages and, in some cases, as attractions for both residents and visitors alike.
According to the American Alliance of Museums, museums return more than $5 in tax revenue for every $1 they receive in funding from all levels of government. They note that studies show children who visited a museum during kindergarten had higher achievement scores in reading, mathematics, and science in third grade than children who did not.
Naturally, most museums, including those in operation locally, wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for dedicated volunteers. The alliance notes that across the U.S., museum volunteers contribute a million hours of service every week.
Congratulations to the Almont Community Historical Society on their special anniversary and we commend all those who volunteer, donate and support all local efforts to preserve history.