On January 19, 2013 the St. Charles Heritage Center celebrated its 80th Anniversary. Started in 1933 with the intent of collecting, preserving, and presenting St. Charles History, the Heritage Center has continued to be an important organization within the community.
In the early days records, photos, and artifacts were kept above Colson’s store on Main Street. In 1940 when the Baker and Norris families jointly built the Municipal Building for St. Charles E.J. Baker made plans to ensure there was space for a Museum in the new government center. For the next 60 years the St. Charles Historical Society called that space home and their collection of artifacts and historic documents continued to grow. By 2000 that growing collection, along with the City’s own expanding staff and office needs, led to the need for a new space. Renovations began on the old Texaco Station located at 215 E. Main Street and in May 2001 the new Museum space was open, and the St. Charles Heritage Center had a new home.
According to an early document from the 1940’s some of the first people to get involved with the St. Charles Historical Society included civic leaders like Mayors I.G. Langum and Ralph Richmond, Col. E.J. Baker, Mr. and Mrs. Lester Norris, Lina Paschal and Effie Hunt, teachers Alice Davis and Helen Munhall, and businessmen S. E. Pike, F. M. Underwood, H. E. Colson, and J.H. Rockwell. These people along with others made up the 25 member Board of Trustees. Today the Heritage Center is governed by a 15 member Board of Directors comprised of current and former St. Charles residents, teachers, business owners, and civic leaders. As the faces change over the years the love and passion for St. Charles has remained strong.
Through the last 80 years the St. Charles Heritage Center has undergone a name change (from the St. Charles Historical Society to the St. Charles Heritage Center), two moves, numerous staff and countless Board Members, but one thing has always remained constant – the focus of collecting, preserving and presenting St. Charles History. Today the Heritage Center collection includes over 10,000 images, more than 5,000 artifacts, numerous primary documents, and countless research documents pertaining to the history of St. Charles. Many of these items are on display in the exhibits or are available to the public by appointment through the research archive. The Heritage Center is an invaluable asset to the town and its residents.
For the whole of its existence, the St. Charles Heritage Center has been an independent non-profit entity; relying on memberships, donations, and support from residents and the city alike. As we celebrate the milestone of 80 years, we are not only looking to continue to collect the history of our wonderful town, we are also looking to ensure the future of the Heritage Center. With your help and support we will be able to guarantee the success of the Heritage Center for the generations yet to come. Thank you to all of our members, visitors, and supporters for your interest in St. Charles History, here’s to another 80 years!