Guest Column, Opinion

MAY IS NATIONAL HISTORIC PRESERVATION MONTH

The story in last week’s Creswell Chronicle entitled “Students tour town’s history at Creswell Museum” was a timely prelude to the recognition of May as National Historic Preservation Month. It highlighted the fact that Creswell is fortunate to have a group and a place dedicated to preserving its history and making it accessible to our young people, and to have educators that recognize the importance of introducing that history to its students.
Whether or not a student or any resident of Creswell was born here, he or she is a part of the flow of Creswell’s history. This common bond builds a shared sense of community. This is the history of OUR town. This is how it was in its beginning and how it has developed to what we see today. And we, today, can shape what will be seen when it is looked back on in the future.
Thanks to today’s technology, we can at any time watch a video or television program that brings history alive with information and even reenactments of historical events. We can search the internet for pictures and information about historic artifacts and buildings. Those opportunities can help us understand how it all fits together. But, they cannot take the place of being able to hold in your hand a toy that a child played with 100 years ago or a schoolbook a child learned from 100 years ago – not a replica, but the real thing owned by a real child who lived here then.
Maybe that book even has a name written in it – the name of that child, a name we might recognize because it is on one of our streets or because our classmate, a descendant, has the same name.
The items, photos and archives in the museum and the building itself are there because people in Creswell’s past recognized the importance of preserving that past for us to experience today and in the future. At the museum, the artifacts are not simply there, they are displayed in their natural settings. This is a kitchen filled with the items that were used in a past kitchen that did not have electric appliances or running water. This is a bedroom with a bed that hardworking people retired to after a day in the field or the woods and an evening without television. There is the braided rug on their wood floor and the handmade quilt that kept them warm when the fire in the fireplace burned low.
Other towns’ museums have items like these, but these are from our own early families. Some of them were brought here by wagon train or by railroad trains that brought new families from the east. Some of the items were purchased in our local businesses. All of them represent something of our shared history.
The members and volunteers of the Creswell Area Historical Society have preserved these vignettes and items of our past for us and for future generations. Watch for an opportunity during National Historic Preservation Month to visit the museum and acquaint yourself with your past.