News Column

Greenacres Historical Society Museum nearing completion

June 30, 2014

By Kevin D. Thompson, The Palm Beach Post, Fla.



June 30--GREENACRES -- Walking through the partially finished Greenacres Historical Society Museum is like going back in time, long before flat-screen TVs, cellphones and the Internet and before the world got into a big hurry.

There are wooden -- and seemingly indestructible -- classroom desks from the 1950s. There's a restored mahogany mantle from an early log cabin home and a decades-old pharmacy section with pictures of thyme and cake fillers for sale.

"I want people to feel like they've walked back into their younger years," Estelle Friedman, president of the Greenacres Historical Society, said of the revamped 863-square-foot museum on 301 Swain Blvd. "And for young people, I want them to see what life was like before everything was taken for granted."

The city has been working on the new museum the last few years. Last year, the council received a $100,000 grant from Palm Beach County to pay for exhibits and parking-lot improvements. The site, once a fire station, replaces the previous museum, a shoe box of a room that was tucked away behind the administrative offices for the city's Leisure Services Department at 525 Swain Blvd.

"This was a challenging building to renovate," said Terry Siegall, the city's capital projects coordinator. "It's been through a lot of changes. Now it has life again."

Right now, the museum is 50 percent complete. Such historical items as a washboard, a Singer sewing machine from the 1920s and a manual typewriter still have to be placed on the shelves. Two half-body mannequins have to be outfitted in World War II garb. Then there's the task of figuring out where everything is going to go.

Friedman is counting on residents to donate additional items. The museum, she said, needs them.

"People have all kinds of things in the attic," she said.

The city is eyeing an October grand opening.

"We want to have it ready for the kids in school," Friedman said.

In the classroom section, there will be a virtual teacher -- probably Friedman -- speaking about the history of Greenacres.

"The teacher will talk about the beginnings and the hurricane that came through in 1928 and destroyed many of the houses," Friedman said. "We're creating history and making people a part of it."

On a recent afternoon, Friedman met with workers of DesignShop Display Communications, the custom exhibit event company that created the museum's displays, for a walk-through. Friedman seemed pleased with what she saw and started talking about the importance of Greenacres residents taking ownership of their community.

She also stressed that the museum, which smells like the inside of a brand new car, is a living, evolving thing that should last a long time.

"As new things come in, we will display them. Otherwise, when you walk in once, you've seen everything and you don't want to come back," Friedman said. "We want this museum to always be developing. It's not a dead thing."

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(c)2014 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.)

Visit The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.) at www.palmbeachpost.com

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Source: Palm Beach Post (FL)


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