TORRINGTON – Somehow, despite it being on one of the busiest stretches of road in Torrington, just north of Baumgaar’s and right across the road from Western Sugar, a lot of people don’t know about the Homesteader’s Museum.
It’s heartbreaking, according to director Sarah Chaires. She said she’s heard that a lot in her five years running the museum, and it hurts every time – but due to recent improvements to the 1925 train depot the museum calls home, that sentiment could be a thing of the past.
“It breaks my heart that so many people in Goshen County don’t know that we even have a museum,” Chaires said. “That is a pretty common theme that I’m working on fixing. We’ve added some signage, we’ve added the parking lot, and we have done a lot of projects in the last five years. Some people noticed, but we’re looking to draw more people in.”
The museum has been completely overhauled and restored to its timeless, vintage beauty. Recently, the museum finished remodeling the depot’s former baggage room. That room will be the home of a number of travelling exhibits, and speaker and projections systems are being added so it can host community meetings and events.
“We are constantly evolving,” she said. “I’ve been here for five years and our big focus has been getting this historic building restored and preserved. This building was built in 1925 and he needed quite a bit of work. We have done a lot of work over the last few years.
“One of the biggest projects that we just completed was the baggage room. We are going to use that for speakers, traveling exhibits, that sort of thing. If members of the public want to come in and use that space as well, you can do it.”
The museum has a few more infrastructure items to work on, such as the electrical system in the front of the building, but it won’t be long until Chaires can delve into the museum’s extensive archive and begin putting together exhibits.
“One of the biggest things, once we get this building taking care of, is to go into our archives and get things organized so we can start rotating things that are currently in storage into exhibits,” Chairs said. “I’m hoping to not have static exhibits in this building. I’m hoping to rotate everything through. We have a lot of stuff in our collection, and we can have it all out at once.”
Chaires said she plans to rotate exhibits to keep up with important dates and anniversaries to keep people interested. For example, this year is the 150th anniversary of the women’s suffrage movement in Wyoming, and the Homesteader’s Museum will be hosting a travelling exhibit from Laramie to commemorate that.
“Starting in June, we will have Women Outside of the Home,” she said. “It is a traveling exhibit from the Women’s Heritage Center in Laramie. We’ll have that through November.
“If something comes up, we’ll do an exhibit to a company that during different times of the year.”
Chaires said she hopes to have all of the building renovations complete by then end of 2019.
“We still have a few more capital improvement projects that we want to wrap up before we really start getting into the exhibits again,” she said. “I’m hoping to have this building mostly done by the end of this year. By the way things are with old buildings, it’s kind of a never-ending project. There are always things we can be working on.”
With the capital projects on the homestretch, Chaires is ready to re-focus the museum’s effort for its intended purpose – honoring the history of Goshen County.
“People get a little confused because it’s called the Homesteader’s Museum, but we’re actually the Goshen County Museum,” Chaires said. “We want to tell the history of our whole community.”