The Records Room in progress. Come in to see the new time-line of Downing High School graduates, the rearrangement of display cabinets and genealogy files, and the new layout of history photos of people of Downing’s past. There’s also space for the community’s churches and the all-important railroad.

Spring Greetings. We’re hard at work getting ready for our annual fundraiser, the 2019 Depot Museum Smorgasbord. This year it will be held on Sunday, June 2. Food will be served starting at 11:30 a.m. Get in line early if you want ALL the best choices.

As several of our committee members are under constant doctor’s care (we send well wishes and prayers to them), we’re having a bit of change this year. You may meet different people contacting you about a donation, so please be kind to the new-bees.

Realizing that those who attend the Depot Smorgasbord are from a large surrounding area, each year the donation committee reaches out to a variety of businesses we know to be used in Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri (mostly Clark, Scotland, and Schuyler counties). This year we’ve sent out an early-notice Smorgasbord flyer and donation request letters to our past supporters and to potential supporters in these areas. If you haven’t received a letter by the end of this week, we apologize for missing you. If you would like to support the Downing Depot Museum by donating something for a door prize or a monetary sum to the Museum fund please give Judy a call at 660-342-1454 for information.

Oh, by the way, we recently confirmed that Downing Depot Museum is a 501c3 tax exempt organization. Therefore, your donations to the Museum can be deducted on your Federal Income Tax if you itemize. Check with your tax professional for details.

The Business Room in progress. Curtains are cleaned, lighting is improved, items relating to all sorts of businesses are rearranged. There’s space for medical, government, retail, and service businesses.

Meanwhile, back at the Depot… All winter we’ve been rearranging small items to large items throughout the main depot building. By the time of the Smorgasbord be should be about 75% complete for the first three rooms. We hope you’ll visit the Depot while you’re attending the Smorgasbord, after all, the funds from the Smorgasbord go to support the Museum, and we’d like you to become familiar with our collection. We’ll still have work to do for another year or so. Next year you’ll have something to look forward to, maybe the Military Room or the Shed/Annex.

We now have an identification (ID) system to store information about the donor of the items and the subject people or activity of each item. Each object has an ID# and a new, or updated, caption. All frames and glass have been cleaned and the backing has been upgraded to acid-free material to last for many years to come. The Museum has been in existence over 50 years and we’re preparing for the next 50.  

From our reorganizing work an item of interest evolved: Many artistic people have lived in Downing throughout the years. There were people who draw and those who paint—Toni Moore, Roy Farris, Larry Rush, Marian Cook, Virgil Stull, Cindy Hayes, Mrs. Eugene (Bessie) Gerwig, and other unnamed painters, a mosaic artist, and a pyrographer (wood burner). There were written-word artists of Jan Briedwell Eiceman and Helen Swindler. Among the musicians, there were two piano teachers—Mrs. Hall & Mrs. Byrdie Drake who had their students perform recitals—and enough fiddlers to have an official Fiddler’s Contest in 1907.

Thanks goes to Memphis Auto Parts for donating supplies used to clean off years of tarnish and dirt from the firearms displayed in the Museum—a shotgun used for hunting by the J.I. Green family in early 1900s and a Japanese rifle obtained at the end of WWII by T. Kenneth Rice. Neither model is functional, but they look nice on the wall.

We’re planning two special-focus exhibits to be on display during the Smorgasbord weekend. One will be focused on transportation with specific attention to Cook’s early Harley-Davidson dealership in Downing.

Another exhibit will cover some of the ways a person can volunteer in the Museum, and the types of things we hope to have donated to the Museum to enhance our coverage of Downing’s history. Not all items have to be given to us. If you wish to keep something, or pass it down to a family member, we would like to borrow the item(s) and photograph or scan them. This is still history which we can display and share with our public.

In the Records Room we’re also highlighting some of the early settlers. Here are Henry and Eliza Prime with two daughters, Hannah Prime Drake and Ollie Prime McConnell.

You may know the Depot Museum complex includes the Depot building, Annex building, jail, and outhouse. Since we’re located in the Appreciation Days Park and use these facilities, we also give monetary assistance for the grounds’ upkeep. Another project we’re working on is upgrading and updating our sign on Hwy 136 to include other locations in the park. Watch this news article and the highway for up-to-date info.

Remember that the Downing Depot Museum opens for the season May 31 through June 2, then it will be open every 1st and 3rd Fridays from 12 noon to 4 p.m. The Museum will also be open during the July 4th celebration weekend and the Downing Appreciation Days weekend. If you are planning an event at the park that you’d like us to be open for, contact Jerry (660-379-2467), Carol (641-929-3915), or Judy (660-342-1454). Please bring your family and friends to enjoy all that you’ll find there.