The Cheney Historical Museum has been keeping the history of Cheney, Four Lakes, Marshall, Tyler and Amber alive for years. The people, schools and some incorporated towns have come and gone, but residents can remember when they visit the museum.
That all changed on Jan. 6, when the Wren Pierson Building in Cheney was deemed unsafe because of heavy snows last winter. Although the museum’s part of the building wasn’t damaged, the power was turned off and at the time, city officials weren’t sure what the extent of the damage would be. Everything in the museum had to be moved.
The majority of the collection has been in a storage space since then. The paper documents have been stored in acid-free boxes in the Washington State Archives building in Cheney, as well as some willow branch chairs with leather strapping that was made by a local man.
The piano and pipe organ is now at City Hall and many members of the community have opened their homes to store clothing, saddles and other fragile items.
Joan Mamanakis, museum director, said the Masons in Cheney have offered to give the museum use of its vacant storefront at 420 First St.
“We don’t have a formal agreement with the Masons yet,” she said. She is hoping to raise enough funds to move in and make a few improvements without costing the Masons anything.
“This is as big as our old space,” Mamanakis said. “It’s on Main Street.”
The museum opened in the Wren Pierson building in 1974 by the Tillicum Club. Mamanakis said her mother used to work in the museum in the 1960s and ’70s. Mamanakis got involved with the museum in 2004.
The museum displays many items from the area’s past such as a large thimble collection and crochet hooks and a large scroll that lists the names of people who enlisted in World War I.
Mamanakis said her favorite exhibit changes all the time, but she was looking forward to this summer before the demise of Wren Pierson. The museum was going to have a Marshall exhibit, featuring a diary kept by Anne Marshall, wife of the founder of the town southeast of Cheney just off Cheney Spokane Road.
“I really came to like her husband, William Marshall,” Mamanakis said. “When Anna felt ill, when she was sick, William Marshall did the laundry.”
The museum has raised about half of its $33,000 goal to move in. Volunteers were at Mayfest with information about the museum and how to donate and they will be out again during the Cheney Rodeo Festival in downtown Cheney and at the Cheney High School Alumni picnic.
Mamanakis remains optimistic about the museum’s future.
“My goal is to get the collection out of storage and into this building before it snows next year.”