TORRINGTON – Director of the Homesteaders Museum Sarah Chaires received the 2020 Maurine Carley Memorial Preservation Award at a celebratory luncheon on Thursday, April 22.
The Goshen County Historical Society nominated her for the award “for bringing the life back into the Homesteaders Museum,” said Mary Houser.
Members of the Goshen County Historical Society met at noon at Deacon’s Restaurant for the occasion. Typically, the award is presented in the fall, but COVID-19 and last month’s snowstorm delayed the gathering.
Every year, the Wyoming State Historical Society presents the Maurine Carley Memorial Preservation Award to “an individual in recognition of an outstanding project in the field of historic preservation,” according to the society’s awards manual.
Maurine Carley was the society’s first secretary-treasurer served in that position until her retirement, according to the society’s Executive Secretary Linda Fabian.
Fabian said Chaires “goes above and beyond in preserving Wyoming’s cultural heritage.”
Chaires said she has been working on remodeling projects since she started as director of the Homesteaders Museum eight years ago.
As a fifth generation Goshen County resident, Chaires said she is passionate about the area.
“I always wanted to go into history, but I knew that I wanted to stay in this part of the world too. I got really lucky with my job,” she said.
The museum’s most recent project has been the restoration of the depot’s baggage room. Chaires said false walls and three layers of flooring were removed. The original baggage scale was found, still in working condition.
“It’s been a remarkable project the city of Torrington and grants and the Historical Society has helped fund,” Chaires said.
This summer, the museum will focus on preparing for the fall, setting up exhibits and lining up speakers. Chaires said a Smithsonian exhibit called “Crossroads” will be featured, starting in October.
Chaires said the museum will host a grand opening event in October of this year.
In regard to the award, Chaires said, “none of this would have been possible without the support of a really wonderful community, the Historical Society, my board president, my family. I haven’t really done anything at the museum by myself. It’s been a huge group effort.”