By ROGER AEGERTER
JEFFERSON, Iowa, April 26, 2021 — When I was entrusted as executive director of the Greene County Historical Society a little less than 10 years ago, I tried to familiarize myself with not only the contents of our museum but also with the structure of the building. I am still discovering new things in the displays and artifacts every time I go in.
But one of the first things I did long ago was climb into the attic of the building at 219 E. Lincoln Way to see what the attic and the underside of the roof looked like. I remember seeing over a dozen 5-gallon pails scattered throughout the attic. Most of them were rusty, some had water in them. From that discovery and additional questions asked of the historical society’s members, I found out that a leaking roof had been a problem for many years. Who knows, maybe it started shortly after the building was built around 1917.
So for the last 10 years at least, we have had almost a yearly problem with leaking water. Sometimes it rained down on some of the displays, which is a terrible thing. Members would scramble to put plastic over the displays and try to catch water in big garbage cans. Thankfully we have never lost anything permanently to water damage, but there has been extensive cleaning before we opened up each May 1.
This year just before Christmas, I sat down and wrote an application for a grant from the Grow Greene County Gaming Corporation. I obtained two bids for the roof. I submitted the grant application early in 2021 and waited for the news of the awards. But before grant money was awarded we had the 10-day thaw in Greene County. I started to check the museum daily to see if I could see or hear any leaks. About the third day, I could hear water dripping up in the balcony of the south storage room. Sure enough water was coming through the roof in a spot that had been patched several times in the past. But because this was around the drainage pipe, the ice had frozen under the tar roof and then thawed, creating a crack.
For the next 10 days, I went to the museum twice a day and emptied a 35-gallon trash container. I estimated that over those 10 days, until all the ice and water were gone from the roof, I captured and carried over 180 gallons of water out to the back alley to dump.
Thankfully Grow Greene County selected our grant proposal as one of the four competitive grants this year. They awarded the historical society $30,000, a substantial contribution toward the total roof replacement cost of $42,000. I would like to thank Grow Greene County again for thinking GCHS and our museum are important assets to our county.
So the roof is scheduled to be replaced the second week of May, depending on the weather. But as you can see we are short of the total bid for the roof. We have the $30,000 from Grow Greene County, $5,600 from specified roof donations of the past few years and an additional $3,050 dollars donated in the last two weeks.
I am asking all GCHS members to consider donating what ever you can to complete this project. You also will be helping us replace the normal donations and income that have been severely limited during the last 15 months when COVID forced us to suspend programming and keep the museum closed. (As you’ll read elsewhere, we are resuming our normal museum hours this Saturday, May 1.)
Donations can be mailed to:
Greene County Historical Society
219 E. Lincoln Way
P.O. Box 435
Jefferson, IA, 50129
Online donations are also available by clicking right here.
The Greene County Board of Supervisors, City of Jefferson, Grow Greene County Gaming Corporation, Greene County Community Foundation, Kiwanis Club and the people of Greene County believe that having a venue to collect, preserve, exhibit, interpret and promote the heritage of Greene County and Iowa is important here. We hope you do too.
Roger Aegerter, the author of this column, is executive director of the Greene County Historical Society. You can comment on this column in the space below here, or you can write directly to Roger by email at email@example.com.