Find Our History In The House Of Romance
Today is Colorado History Day. Colorado is named after the Spanish word meaning red mountains which is a great tribute in wrapping up our Cinco de Mayo week long celebration. Our history in Colorado is a beautiful and vast one.
Locally, here in Jackson County, our history is just as beautiful and unique. We have our own hidden gem right here in Walden that contains the most amazing collection of our own history. For decades, by the courtesy and graciousness of the Hazel Gresham family descendants, the North Park Pioneer Museum showcases the history of North Park. The museum opened in 1963 when Vic Hanson donated the building to the museum association. The three-room ranch home was originally built for Jacob Johnson in 1882 on the North Platte River. With three new addition, the three floor, 30 room facility rivals the Smithsonian in authenticity and rarity. Many weddings were held in the original cabin during the settlement of North Park, giving the building the nick name "The House of Romance."
The uniqueness of the North Park Pioneer Museum comes from literally the roots of people that have lived in Jackson County. Everything within the walls of the North Park Pioneer Museum tell the story of our own rich history here. Items donated must be from a pioneer of North Park, whether on loan or by donation. This incredible collection is one museum curators across the country would drool over if they saw its contents.
The museum is set up in 30 different vignettes that share a theme of artifacts. For example, in the kitchen collection houses an archaic dishwasher on display. This dishwasher is a “MacGyver” style contraption that was made for a local café prior to the invention of dishwashers. Other unique items included are an 1936 Dodge in original condition. There is a collection of buffalo horns found petrified that represent our days when they great animal still roamed our grassland plains. Something that makes this collection so rare and unique is the fact that you can see it; you can touch it; you can learn so much about it just because it is available to admire outside of glassed in boxes or cages. I am sure curators would cringe on the way items have been displayed and not put in preservation boxes however that's part of what makes this collection so rich.
History enthusiasts will get lost in time when they come to visit the North Park Pioneer Museum. In the 30 display rooms, there’s a large variety available to see in each collection. From military uniforms in the Military Honoree room, to a poker room in the basement it just touches the surface. There’s a collection of clothing from pioneer women, beautiful antique pictures from the generations that built our county and a cowboy gear collection that is sure to rope you in. A new annex was added and opened last summer. This addition offered three more display areas rooms for the museums swelling collection of artifacts. This includes a Jackson County license plate collection that dates to the first plates used on vintage automobiles in the county. Plans include a possible music room and the upstairs will share a clothing collection.
The North Park Pioneer Museum is funded by the Pioneer Museum Association and one fundraiser is done a year to cover the costs in maintaining the facility. This is at the Old Timers reunion held the last weekend in June. This year's celebration will be held on June 24 at the high school. More details will come in the next few weeks as we plan a celebration to honor the Richard family as Pioneer Family of the Year.
The museum is open Memorial Day through Labor Day from 10 to 4. The museum also offers an opportunity for educational engagement with our local school children by going on field trips and learning more about the roots in which they stand on. We are excited about the upcoming season at the Pioneer Museum and hope as you celebrate Colorado's historical roots you remember the importance of the North Park Pioneer Museum in the history that resides within the “House of Romance.”