Just as the brick restoration on Second Street in front of the Gage County Historical Museum ended, but the museum still has bricks on the mind.
Until March 1, the Gage County Historical Society will be selling personalized bricks to pave the walkway in front of the museum to help offset the cost of the restoration work.
For $100, donors can get a personalized four by eight inch brick, made by the Endicott Clay Products, with three lines that can be personalized with 16 letters each. They’ve sold 20 so far, said Marilyn Coffin, the secretary and treasurer of the Gage County Historical Society, and they’re hoping people will immortalize their families in a lasting piece of Gage County history.
They’ll be set in the path that leads to the museum that goes past the miniature Statue of Liberty—originally placed in Charles Park by the Beatrice Boy Scouts in 1951—and the 2007 time capsule that will be opened on Beatrice’s 200th birthday in 2057.
She said she hopes people will commemorate their businesses, friends, loved ones, historic residents of Gage County, but really it can be almost anything they’d like.
“You can be very creative as to what your intention is,” she said. “You're on historic ground there with the Burlington Northern Railroad station there.”
The museum started a general fundraising drive in June of last year to pay for the brick improvements, but in September, Gage County Historical Society director Lesa Arterburn had the idea to sell bricks.
There are as many bricks available for sale as there are bricks on the walkway, Coffin said. So far they’ve sold 20 of them, but they’re trying to bring that number up to help pay for the brickwork restoration at the museum.
“Through the brick project, we got a Gage County tourism grant to offset half the cost of the brick project and that was approximately $26,000 and our total project was approximately $52,000,” said Leigh Coffin, Gage County Historical Society board member. “That means the other $26,000 has to come from society.”
The board has had other fundraisers to work to bring up the total, but were mostly based on individual donations. The brick fundraiser adds a bit of a personal touch, the Coffins said, and their daughter even purchased one for them for Christmas.
Nothing is set in stone yet, Marilyn said, but they’ll be discussing a brick placement ceremony at the next board meeting. The group expects the bricks to be ready for placement in spring.
Order forms for the bricks can be obtained at Pinnacle Bank, the Beatrice Chamber of Commerce and at the Gage County Historical Museum once it reopens on February 1. Bricks can also be ordered with an online form at the museum’s website or by calling the Gage County Historical Society at (402) 228-1679.
There’s a bright year ahead for the museum, Marilyn Coffin said, and, just last week they received delivery of one of the upcoming exhibits, a life ring from the World War II ship, the SS Beatrice Victory.
Built in the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, California, the SS Beatrice Victory was 455 feet long, 62 feet wide and armed with eight machine guns and a five inch deck gun—impressive artillery for a cargo ship.
The Beatrice Victory was built in just 60 days between October 27, 1944 and December 27 the same year. There’s not much information available on where the ship wound up, but the museum will have more of her history when the display opens.
In May, the museum is planning on opening an exhibit on Company C of the Nebraska National Guard which, Leigh Coffin said, is in the final stages. The Gage County Historical Society is working with the Nebraska National Guard Museum in Seward and they’re hoping to have an opening event that coincides with Homestead Days.
Then, in March, the Gage County Classic Film Institute is holding a three-day retrospective of the work of Beatrice native Gene Coon. Coon was a TV writer for shows like “Bonanza," “Wagon Train," “Maverick” and “Dragnet," but is probably best known for his work on the original “Star Trek” series.
David Gerrold, who worked with Coon on “Star Trek” will be speaking at the Beatrice Public Library on March 2. Gerrold wrote one of “Star Trek’s” most famous episodes, “The Trouble with Tribbles”, which will be screened that night at the free event.
“Our idea is to bring the museum into the spotlight more than it has been,” Marilyn Coffin said. “People know it's there, but we need to make people aware of the efforts going in to constantly evolve and be creative.”