The Ward County Historical Society museum is on the mend but there's still a lot of work to be done to recover from last year's flood.
"Every exterior has been painted and/or scrubbed," said Amanda Watts, a museum curator who has been helping with recovery.
Even though there are campers parked in front of the museum on the North Dakota State Fairgrounds, which obstructs fairgoers' view of the prairie village museum,, the museum is very much open, said Watts, and people will be on hand to give tours throughout the fair.
Andrea Johnson/MDN • The prairie village museum is open throughout the North Dakota State Fair.
Watts and history intern Abigail Kyner said a group of volunteers from Hope Village helped paint and wash the buildings prior to the fair. All of the buildings are open. Some, but not all, have some museum exhibits in them. The log cabin, cook house and the blacksmith have been restored and work is continuing on the barbershop and mercantile building. Samuelson House is also open, so people can see both the museum displays and some of the remaining flood damage.
Lowe's Garden donated flowers that were planted by volunteers on the grounds.
The Lutheran church on the grounds looks much improved. Watts said stained glass windows from the church are being restored. She hopes the church will be ready for a grand reopening at a ceremony in October. The public will be invited.
Watts and Kyner said the historical society is still asking for monetary donations to help them continue restoring the museum. The Federal Emergency Management Agency requires that the museum raise $40,000 in private donations for the museum to get full reimbursement from FEMA. That represents about 6 percent of the total, said Watts. She said not all of it has to be raised in one chunk, so the historical society has started with buildings that will cost less to restore so they can get a start on renovation. They didn't choose to seek FEMA reimbursement for all of the buildings on the grounds, such as the cook car, said Watts, but have funded restorations themselves.
Several of the museum buildings have signs on them talking about the damage that was done to it during the flood and giving the amount of money it will take to restore the building to its pre-flood state. There are also photos of some of the building taken after the flood and at different stages of the cleanup process.
Watts and Kyner said they hope some people will see those signs and consider sponsoring an entire building so it can be restored.