H. Earl Clack Museum nears opening day in new building
by Ila McClenahan
member of the foundation board
Le Havre and the H. Earl Clack Memorial Museum of Hi-Line will soon be moving into a new permanent residence at n ° 2 5th avenue in Le Havre. The building was previously known as the Griggs Printing building and before that as the Anderson Wholesale. The journey to the museum’s new location has seen its ups and downs with a few twists and turns along the way. Today, the consensus of board members and community leaders is “Full speed ahead! “
Members of the Museum Board of Trustees and the H. Earl Memorial Museum Foundation and Margaret Turner Clack hope the renovation and redevelopment will be completed this winter. At the beginning of spring, the objects of the current museum of Le Havre Holiday Mall will be gathered in the new “house” of the museum.
In 1964, the museum opened at the Great Northern Fairgrounds. The old Faber school, a family cabin, a caboose from the Far North and a remarkable exhibition of agricultural tools are still on display there.
The next move was to the old US Post Office, where it was known as the Havre Heritage Center. The Holiday Village Mall with the Wahkpa Chu’gn Buffalo Jump nearby became the next stop. The museum has moved two more times to different areas of the mall.
Throughout the history of this local treasure, board members have continued to dream and work for a permanent facility. When they heard about the possibility of the Griggs Printing installation becoming available, the board members were very interested. A purchase price was agreed upon and board members as well as interested community members grasped the vision of all the possibilities that the building had to offer. With its huge square feet and three floors, it brought together most of the items that were stored in various locations.
When Griggs Printing closed, it allowed professionals and volunteers to do the necessary redesign.
Foundation President Elaine Morse and Museum President Lela Patera both agree that there is still a lot of work to be done before the doors can be opened to the public. A public use inspection must be completed before items can start moving from the mall to the new one. When the move is complete, the doors will open. An entrance fee still to be determined will be requested from visitors to the museum.
After the opening, work will continue on new showcases. There will also be “temporary” rotating screens. These will allow the museum’s board of directors to showcase a variety of artifacts from the collection.
The volunteer work has been carried out by an incredible number of people among MSU-Northern board members, professionals, businesses as well as plumbing students under the leadership of Thomas Cline. Much of the plumbing was under the direction of board member and master plumber Loren Schlotfeldt. Members of the local Lion’s Club have volunteered and will soon be used to assemble the disabled ramp, as well as for other projects.
Donations of artifacts are greatly appreciated, but the Chairman of the Board asks the public to keep them until time and financial donations allow them to be displayed properly. Due to space and security constraints, not all artifacts will be on permanent display. The museum’s board of directors determines it according to the criteria of its statutes.
A very special room will be named the “Clack Room” in honor of H. Earl and Margaret Turner Clack, founders of the museum. Mr. and Mrs. Clack continue to make a difference in our community to this day. Planned exhibits will highlight Mr. Clack’s business influence and will also include a grand piano donated by the Clack family, a doll collection and a stunning display of Ms. Clack’s clothing.
The Foundation Board is actively seeking grants and fundraising. They are grateful for the grant provided through the Newfields program through Bear Paw Development Corp. which allowed the reduction of lead-based paint and asbestos. A private donor donation recently provided a ramp accessible to people with disabilities.
Community members and anyone with Hi-Line connections can become a friend of the Clack Museum with a donation of $ 25 or more per year to: H. Earl Clack Foundation, PO Box 1496, Havre, MT 59501.
These are exciting times for the H. Earl Clack Museum and our community. The best is yet to come. “Full speed!”