When Stephenville Historical Museum invites guests to experience history, they hope visitors will avoid a hands on approach. But it seems individuals wishing to get in touch with days gone by sometimes take things a little too far.
In an effort to preserve artifacts, signs are posted across the museum grounds asking visitors to avoid climbing on displays, but the friendly requests are being ignored by some. In fact, it appears visitors at some point decided to scale at least one of the historic structures, its roof and chimney, causing maintenance concerns.
"The problem is that the cedar shanks slide, causing the roof to leak and creating added maintenance expenses," Robin Ritchie, president of the museum board, said.
Other artifacts such as a surrey and wagon are also being climbed on, forcing caretakers to install partitions between them and the public or consider removing them from the museum grounds for safe keeping.
"We don't want to have to charge admission to fund repairs to the items that are being damaged and also don't want to have to take steps to eliminate climbing and remove the artifacts," Ritchie said. "We want them to remain on the grounds, but they are being damaged."
Ritchie said the lawn and flowerbeds, which are maintained by volunteers, are being damaged when individuals climb and jump the fence bordering the property, taking away from the inviting scenery.
With May being Preservation Month, it is a perfect time to make a pledge to help preserve Erath County history.
The Stephenville Historical Museum was established in 1966 after the Stephenville Twentieth Century Club and Stephenville Study Club urged the city to purchase the museum property to provide an adequate home for
historical artifacts and assorted collections they were displayed in the public library. A board of directors was appointed to spearhead the preservation effort the same year.
"Just like the board, the community and visitors have the responsibility of preserving artifacts when they are on the museum grounds," Ritchie said. "We appreciate patronage, welcome guests and invite everyone to visit, but there is more than 160 years of Erath County history and artifacts stored and displayed at the museum grounds and we would like to preserve them for future generations to enjoy."