Argonia: Salter House Museum on path to reopening

Volunteers are working to reopen the Salter House Museum. A conflict between museum volunteers became public at the Argonia City Council meeting in May.

By Sam Jack

Last month, longtime Salter House Museum volunteer Carol Pearce addressed the Argonia City Council, stating that she had concerns about the museum’s condition and the management of its finances.

Mary Beth Bookless, treasurer of the Argonia and Western Sumner County Historical Society, offered responses to Pearce’s claims. Bookless said that, aside from obtaining and successfully using a $71,000 state grant to restore the exterior of the home of America’s first female mayor, the society has been mostly inactive for several years.

Now, she said, the group is gaining volunteer members and increasing its activity level as it prepares to reopen the Salter House to the public.

“The organization is ready to clean the museum, get it reopened, and get it back into business,” Bookless said. Volunteers are spending a morning a week working on clean-up at the museum. “We have probably 10 new members; we’ve been recruiting. We’re trying to get this up and going.”

At the city council meeting last month, Pearce expressed concern that museum funds had been misused, or artifacts misplaced. Bookless said that was not the case, and said that she did not take an item from the museum and sell it, as Pearce claimed.

The historical society’s first general membership meeting in several years was held this April.

“Since then, we have gotten everything together for (an) audit, we have contacted who’s going to do the audit, and they are in the process of getting that going,” Bookless said. “When the audit is done, we will present it to the organization, at which point it will be available for public (review).”

The Salter House has never had air conditioning, and its furnace has been in disrepair since 1998, Bookless said. The building also needs new electrical service. The historical society is trying to raise funds to address those needs.

The historical society’s next scheduled meeting is 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 10, at the First Baptist Church in Argonia. The public is invited to attend.

At the society’s last two meetings, Troy Bookless was elected president, Mary Beth Bookless was elected treasurer, and Dale Weishaar and Linda McIntire were elected to the executive board. Pearce resigned her position on the executive board but continues to serve as the group’s vice president.

Those interested in getting involved with the Salter House Museum may call Bookless at 620-435-6171 or board member Marsha Weishaar at 620-435-6125.

Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the June 14 print edition of the Star-Argosy. To see stories like this first, and to get all your community news, subscribe today. Call 316-540-0500 to get the Star-Argosy delivered to your home next week.