RIFLE — It takes a community to preserve a town’s history and that’s exactly what the newly formed Rifle Creek Center for Historic Preservation is hoping will happen in Rifle.
The nonprofit group — a combination of the Rifle Creek Museum and the Rifle Historical Society — officially began operating on April 1 and has a laundry list of things they want to do to help the ongoing preservation and promotion of the history and heritage of Rifle.
The board of directors was finalized on Thursday, April 10: Cecil Waldron as elected as chair; Betty Waldron, secretary; Jean Mullenax, treasurer; and directors Alan Lambert, Kathy Runia, Dick Rhoades, Betty Clifford, Maryhannah Throm, Shirley Lawson, Judy Builteman, Kevin Runia and Ava Bowles. Kim Fazzi is curator of the museum and Rich Carter is the Rifle City Council representative to the board.
But they can’t do it by themselves. The Rifle Creek Center for Historical Preservation is calling for members of the community to embrace the effort that will allow residents and visitors alike to enjoy Rifle’s rich Western heritage.
Already under construction is a website at www.rhsi.org with 70 pages of names of everyone buried in the Rose Hill cemetery.
A Facebook page at Rifle Creek Center for Historic Preservation is showcasing old photographs and there are 83 glass negatives from the Garrison Collection of photographs which will eventually be sold at the museum.
Renovation of the museum at Third Street and East Avenue (the former site of the city hall and the fire department), has already begun with some fresh paint and new carpet.
“We started on Monday changing some of the exhibits around and we’re going to add new ones,” Waldron said. “The museum has been static for so many years.”
The costly renovations will include fixing the heating and lighting systems to make the two-story, 8,200-square foot building available for use during the winter months. The group hopes to pay for the improvements through grant money, private donations, membership dues, city funds and in-kind donations.
The Rifle Watchdawgs, a community group, has held fundraising events for the museum and Mountain High Paint has donated paint.
“We really need a heating contractor to come in and give us an estimate,” said Runia. “We also need to fix the lighting. We’re willing to do the grunt work if we’re capable of doing it, but for lighting and heating, we need professionals.”
Services from professionals such as attorneys, IT specialists, grant writers, real estate brokers, electricians, plumbers, heating/air conditioning and maintenance workers would also be welcome, she said.
Along with being a place for people to come and learn about Rifle’s colorful past, the center wants to provide a research room for people to sit down and study genealogy and read through old newspapers and for school children to take field trips.
“Right now, we need volunteers and members to do tours from May to October when the museum is open,” Runia said.
New membership fees have also been set. Membership includes free admission to the museum, a membership card, the center’s newsletter and a 10 percent discount off gift shop items. Annual membership fees are $15 for antique (seniors 62 and over); $25, individual; $50 family; $100, business; $1,000 Lifetime; and an estate (memorial) membership, amount to be determined.
But making Rifle’s past come alive again and play a vibrant part in the city will take community support and funding.
“That’s really what matters,” Runia said. “We have a ton of goals, but we need financial and community support.”
The Rifle Creek Museum was formed in 1967 and has been at its current location since the 1980s. The Rifle Historical Society was formed in 2005, as an offshoot of the city’s Centennial committee.
“We’ve finally decided to form together and make people aware of our history,” said Lambert. “Social media can play a big role in getting people together and make the information more accessible. Along with cattle drives and gun fights, we have huge history in this valley that most people don’t know about. There are a lot of things that have taken place here. “
The Rifle Creek Center for Historic Preservation meets at 7 p.m. on the third Monday of the month at the old CMC building on Railroad Avenue. The museum hours beginning mid-May are Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. and Saturdays, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. For more information about the center, contact Cecil Waldron at (970) 625-3391.