Gasconade County Historical Society begins $1.5 million Archives center addition campaign

‘Saving Our Past — Building Our Future’ committee launches fund-raising effort to upgrade facility opened in 2001

By Dave Marner, Managing Editor
Posted 4/13/22

An addition is being planned for the Gasconade County Historical Society’s Archives and Records Center in Hermann and a $1.5 million fund-raising project has begun in anticipation of the …

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Gasconade County Historical Society begins $1.5 million Archives center addition campaign

‘Saving Our Past — Building Our Future’ committee launches fund-raising effort to upgrade facility opened in 2001

Posted

An addition is being planned for the Gasconade County Historical Society’s Archives and Records Center in Hermann and a $1.5 million fund-raising project has begun in anticipation of the proposed 2024 ground-breaking.

The Gasconade County Historical Society this past week announced plans to construct an two-story annex to its Archives and Records Center in the former  Bay-Hermann-Berger Bank at the corner of 4th and Schiller streets in Hermann. 

The Society is launching a capital campaign, “Saving Our Past — Building Our Future,” to raise $1.5 million for construction of the addition and renovation and connection to the building north of the site. 

A preliminary plan calls for the addition being constructed between the 1909 bank building and the small, circa 1885, building immediately to the north. Drive-through lanes and parking space used for banking currently separate the two structures.

The plan has been approved by the Hermann Landmarks Commission, according to the GCHS. Approval is required because the Center is located in Hermann’s Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The building next door dates from its beginnings in 1885 as a book bindery, “as far as we can tell,” according to Lois Kruse, a local historian and driving force in establishing the records facility.

The shop’s proprietor also likely produced and sold stationary from the small storefront. In 1909, the bank building was constructed. An elevator currently in use in the building will connect the existing brick structure with the proposed two-story addition.

Plans call for the lower level of the addition to be available for exhibits and lectures. 

“Down the road when I’m dead and gone it can be used for records storage as needed,” said Kruse.

A small kitchen is also planned which came be used for events or daily staffing needs.

She said the design is “conceptual at this point” and planning is focused on “developing needs” for the archives facility as the plan progresses to developing a final architectural set of plans.

“It’s preliminary but know it will be a brick structure,” said Kruse. 

According to the historic group’s campaign to the promote the project, the Archives & Records Center has been serving the public since 2001 as a research center on topics of Gasconade County history and for historic family research on Gasconade County families. Center staff and volunteers assist researchers from throughout Gasconade County, the state, the nation, and even other countries.

The facility houses, conserves and makes accessible the public records of Gasconade County dating back to 1821 and in isolated cases before 1821. Documents preserved there include records of county marriage licenses, real estate transactions, probate and circuit court cases, immigration, one-room schools, and other public documents.

Documents, photos and other paper memorabilia from private sources —families, organizations, churches and more — are also housed at the Center and are made accessible.

“Accumulation of items of historical interest from families and other entities covering the now 200-plus years since the establishment of Gasconade County in 1821 is resulting in a building that is ‘bulging at the seams,’” according to the GCHS release. “As baby boomers recognize their mortality and feel strongly about preservation of their family’s history, the collection of items at the Archives & Records Center grows weekly, sometimes daily.”

The Gasconade County Historical Society is embarking on a capital campaign to raise the necessary funds. It is pursuing a variety of sources for donations and is soliciting the support of all Gasconade countians, as well as any and all who have ties to Gasconade County. 

The Gasconade County Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) organization so all contributions to it are tax-deductible.

Members of the GCHS “Saving Our Past — Building Our Future” committee are Lois Kruse, Betty Estes, Bob Pinkerton, Kay Swinke, and Phyllis Gross, president.

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