Hawthorne Historical Society Wins Council Approval for Museum Location (By Cristian Vasquez from an article published April 19, 2012 in the Hawthorne Press Tribune)
The goal of the Hawthorne Historical Society to find a location to display the historical artifacts and photos of the city has become a reality. During the March 27 Hawthorne City Council meeting, City leaders approved a lease with the Hawthorne Historical Society for a portion of the former Hawthorne Police Station, located across the street from the current City Hall building.
“Several years ago, the subject of using the Police Station came up and was suggested by several citizens. The Mayor and City Council majority at that time voted it down,” Hawthorne Historical Society President and Hawthorne City Clerk Norb Huber said. “They wanted to keep the police station site for development. Since the economy has gone south, there are very few developers looking to invest in a project of this magnitude right now. Once we had a change in leadership on the City Council, support for the museum was with the Historical Society.”
The Hawthorne Historical Society was organized back in 2010 when several members of the community began investigating if there was an interest in local history. However, for more than a year there was no location available for the Hawthorne Historical Society to display the large collection of historical items that were in the City’s possession.
“We’ve been waiting for this day for a long time,” Tom Quintana, Public Information Officer for the City and Executive Director of the Hawthorne Historical Society, said in a press release. “Finally we will have a place to show our residents and visitors what Hawthorne was really like and tell the stories of the well-known people who have called Hawthorne home.”
The old building will immediately undergo renovations in what were originally the City Council chambers and which would later become the Police Detectives’ Bureau to prepare the space necessary to create adequate displays. Finding a location took some time, but is the end result of a long process which led to the creation of the society that began more than two years ago.
“We started to attend the Parks and Recreation Commission meetings once a month and they were asking us, ‘What do you think?’ And we would ask them, ‘What do you think?’ It was October 14 when we had our first meeting of just people in the community over at the Memorial Center just to see what interest was there in the community,” Quintana said. “That was really where we started asking the public, ‘What do you want? What do you think? Do you want a museum? Do you want a historical society? Do you just want a committee that’s a sub-function of the Parks and Recreation Commission?’ Out of that came a recommendation that there be a stand-alone organization. Eventually it was decided we be named the Hawthorne Historical Society.”
Historical items from the community have been collecting over the years and have ended up in the possession of the City through various sources where people donated what they owned or what they had found. For instance, Chase Bank across the street donated certain pictures found in its storeroom when they moved into the space. Other items were collected by residents such as the late Walt Dixon, who dedicated his time to preserving the city’s history through obtaining photos or relics associated with Hawthorne’s past.
Robert Hartman, former Manager of the Hawthorne Chamber of Commerce and author of the History of Hawthorne through 1972, was another resident who would contribute significantly to the preservation and ability to display the town’s history to the public. Hartman, who passed away in the 1980s, was fundamental in putting together Heritage Hall at the Hawthorne Memorial Center. “That collection is primarily his efforts. Unfortunately, some of that stuff is fading because the lights are always on out there,” Quintana said. “We aren’t professional archivists, but we need to learn because some of these old photographs we just can’t put them in plastic sleeves.”
Preparation efforts at the new location began April 7 when members of the Hawthorne Historical Society gathered at the museum to conduct basic clean-up work. The space provided to display local artifacts is 750 square feet, which will not be able to accommodate every item in storage to be displayed at once. Still, there have been more items donated and/or collected by the Society that will eventually end up on display. “We have received some neat memorabilia so far,” Huber said. “We won’t be able to display everything we have since the new museum is not really large in square footage. We will be constantly upgrading our displays.
Hawthorne residents and former residents are encouraged to join the Hawthorne Historical Society and plan to visit the museum when it is up and running. The Society is always seeking new members who are willing to actively participate in activities such as archiving, preserving and maintenance, among other duties.
For more information on the Hawthorne Historical Society, persons interested can visit http://hawthornehistorical.com/ and fill out the contact us form