Members of Boy Scout Troop 529 beamed with pride Saturday as they were the first ones in several years to help with cleanup efforts at a building that will house the Seymour Museum.
Later on, when the museum opens, that pride will be ramped up when those boys can tell people they were a part of it.
“I think that’s the cool part of it, is they can see what it looks like ahead of time, and then later on, as they get older, they’ll be able to see what it turns into,” Scoutmaster Howard Moore said.
Scout Skylar Shubert, 13, a seventh-grader at Seymour Middle School, said it brought him joy and happiness to spend four hours carrying debris out and sweeping so work can begin on the building’s interior.
Story continues below gallery
“As long as we’re going to make other people of the city of Seymour like what we’re doing with places like this, then we’re going to keep doing it,” he said. “It’s definitely going to motivate us to keep doing stuff like this.”
The troop got involved after parent volunteer Lenny Hauersperger was invited to be on the Seymour Museum Inc. board to help get the 100-year-old building, which once housed the post office, police station and city hall, cleaned up and opened as a museum.
Moore said the troop typically does a service project every couple of months. They also do monthly outings, so the cleanup effort was a bonus for this month.
“I don’t think anybody knew what they were getting into,” Moore said with a smile. “But they always attack everything full speed ahead. We’ll be willing to help whenever they need more help.”
Skylar said it’s nice when the troop works together.
“It really does build relationships. It brings us closer as friends, and it’s a bond you really can’t break,” he said.
To make the museum a reality, it’s going to take the Scouts and other groups, businesses and individuals to step up and help out, Hauersperger said.
In 2004, a steering committee was formed to create a museum. A nonprofit organization was formed, and it was incorporated in 2006.
That group had a feasibility study completed, hired a state historic preservation architect and applied for a grant for construction plans. But funding didn’t come in as expected, and then the economy suffered a hit in 2008.
The organization received a grant to restore the front windows of the building a couple of years ago, but work stalled after that.
Now, with encouragement from the mayor and city attorney, a new board has been meeting weekly to put the project in motion and begin fundraising.
‘It’s going to get done’
Hauersperger said he was asked several times about being on the board and was unsure about joining.
“But then the more I asked around and I found out the city wants this, the people want this, the teachers I’ve talked to want this, and I do have a background in construction, and I have done some fundraisers in the past for the high school and different places, I just think it’s needed,” he said. “Seymour needs to have a historical museum.”
Hauersperger was raised in the western Jennings County community of Hayden, and he pointed to how nice its historical museum is and how it is expanding. Jackson County has a history center, so he thought Seymour needed one, too.
“As big a town as Seymour is and as rich a history as Seymour has, this museum has to take place,” he said. “There’s so many generous people here that I know the sponsors will come. There’s no question in my mind it’s going to get done.”
When he discussed the museum cleanup with the Boy Scouts, everyone was eager to help. They plan to do other projects there in the future.
Local Girl Scouts also expressed interest in helping, and Hauersperger said he plans to apply for the Jackson County United Way’s annual Day of Caring to have volunteers come there and work.
Also on Saturday, the Boy Scouts pulled up carpet and cleaned a house at 308 N. Chestnut St. owned by Seymour Museum Inc. Mary Vehslage lived there until she died in February, and she donated the home to the museum board.
Vehslage was involved with the Jackson County Historical Society and worked to preserve buildings in downtown Seymour.
For now, the home will be rented out as a source of income for the museum board. It later could serve other purposes.
“That’s a huge plus, a very generous gift,” Hauersperger said.
‘Not heard one negative’
The museum board has come up with ideas for fundraisers, and it hopes to begin executing those this year.
The board also will work on collecting items for the museum. The plans are to have rotating displays, along with permanent exhibits representing key people in Seymour’s history.
“Everybody I’ve talked to, they either want to donate or know somebody that wants to donate or they want to help in some way,” Hauersperger said. “All of them want to see it. I’ve not heard one negative.”
He also said he would like to get the schools involved and possibly have a teachers advisory group.
“The schools, I think, are going to benefit big time for this because I know their history teachers are excited about this, too,” he said. “This is a place they can bring their students to and actually show them things from the past. Seymour has a deep history. There’s so many possibilities with this museum and so many opportunities that I think it will help the adults and the youth both.”
Being in real estate for more than 20 years, Hauersperger said, he sees the vision of the museum and is excited to see work begin to make it happen.
“These adults and kids here are excited. They are seeing something taking place, and this is a building that they are a part of, they have ownership in,” he said of the Scouts.
“I believe in ‘Build it and they will come,’” he said. “It’s just a great thing that the whole community can benefit from, and we can have other events in here, too. It’s going to be a beautiful building.”
Fundraising and grant research are underway for the Seymour Museum.
Seymour Museum Inc. is a 503(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and all donations are tax-deductible.
Anyone interested in donating time, expertise, materials or money can contact Lenny Hauersperger at 812-530-9272.
Inquiries and information can be sent to Seymour Museum, Box 1138, Seymour, IN 47274.
A Facebook page is expected to be up and running by late spring.