Submitted by McCleary Historical Society
Linda Thompson, president of the McCleary Historical Society, has announced acceptance by the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church of the Society’s offer to purchase the church building at 426 S. 3rd Street in McCleary. Acceptance of the offer, made by the Historical Society’s all-volunteer board, was received on Thursday, November 6; details of the transaction are still being discussed.
The announcement marks the first step in a plan by the Historical Society to create a community center and museum in the former church building, to be known as The McCleary Museum and Heritage Center. “We envision that the historic structure will become a venue to be used for a wide variety of programs, such as small concerts, lectures, meetings, weddings, memorial services, religious services, dinners and many other social gatherings,” Thompson said. The facility will also house the museum’s historical collection.
“The overall appearance of the church building won’t change much,” she added, “other than a new sign out in front.” As plans progress, the Historical Society plans to hold meetings with civic groups and the general public, asking them to join in planning for the new facility and share ideas for how it will be used.
The project will save the historic church that opened in 1926, dedicated to Ada McCleary, wife of Henry McCleary, founder of the town. It will also provide a new home for historical documents and artifacts relating to the founding and development of the town over the years that comprise the McCleary Museum collection.
“Realistically, this project is going to take a lot of money and a lot of work by many volunteers,” Thompson said. “We are starting a capital fund drive, hoping to raise $250,000 over time, to pay for purchase of the building, to make some necessary repairs and establish a legacy endowment fund.
Although the building is in fairly good condition overall, a recent visual evaluation by the City of McCleary disclosed that the brick chimney is in “an advanced state of deterioration,” is certainly in danger of collapse in a seismic event and should be removed. There is also structural rot in the northeast floor framing that needs to be repaired. Windows throughout the building need repairs and painting and the floor covering in the Fellowship Hall needs to be replaced, among other things.
The building was also recently examined by a historical architect from Washington State’s Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, who generally concurred with the city’s findings.
In order to proceed with the Heritage Center concept, the Historical Society plans to seek partnerships with a number of community organizations and city government to develop a common vision statement for the facility. The group is also in close contact with, and seeking guidance from, the State Historical Society.
“The unique history of McCleary needs to be preserved,” Thompson said. “We invite the community to help us preserve the story of McCleary, be a part of the future and support the new McCleary Museum and Heritage Center.”–Press Release, November 8, 2019