As Anne Kessler looked over the expanded Warren County Historical Society Museum that bears her family name Saturday afternoon, she had just one more wish.
“It is really wonderful, beautiful,” she said. “I wish my dad was here to see it.”
The generosity of Kessler’s father, R. Stuart Hummel, made the expansion project possible.
A ceremony was held Saturday to celebrate the expansion project and to recognize the Hummel family. The laying of the cornerstone was performed by members of Pauldingville Lodge No. 10, Wright City.
This past weekend’s events included a private gathering Friday for historical society members and other volunteers and public tours of the museum on Saturday and Sunday.
The expansion and renovation project nearly doubled the existing 3,872-square-foot museum with the construction of the 3,820-square-foot Hummel addition. The museum is located at 102 W. Walton in Warrenton, a block south of the courthouse.
The expansion was made possible through a $850,000 gift from the estate of R. Stuart Hummel, of Sonoma, Calif. The donation was announced in May 2009. The addition was named for Hummel’s father, William, and uncle, Arthur. The twin brothers were born near Warrenton on March 6, 1884.
Stuart Hummel passed away on Dec. 16, 2007. He was 92.
Kessler, who is from California and had traveled to Warren County only one other time, was one of many family members to attend this weekend’s events.
“I am just amazed at the knowledge, the effort; everything that has gone into this,” Kessler said. “Everyone has absolutely been wonderful. I am thoroughly impressed.”
Jan Sutherland, historical society president, was glad to see a large turnout throughout the weekend.
“All of our work has come to fruition,” she said. “It has been fantastic. We were glad (the Hummel family) could enjoy the building. I was grateful that as many of the community people came as well as our own members.”
The expansion project included a large addition constructed to the west of the existing structure that features a large multipurpose exhibit hall, storage room and restrooms. An unfinished basement, measuring 2,770 square feet, will provide space for more storage. A small addition also was constructed on the south side of the museum. The 40- by 20-foot room will be used for the preparation of displays and exhibits, a much needed workplace for volunteers.
In addition, the existing structure also underwent several changes, as the library was expanded and other renovations were made.
Freise Construction served as the project’s general contractor. The Old Monroe-based company built the existing building in 1982. The expansion was designed by Kettelkamp Architect, Hannibal.
Also during Saturday’s ceremony, Sutherland recognized historical society board members and members of the building committee. She presented building committee chairman Walter Schroeder with a framed rendering of the expanded museum for his tireless work during the project.
“This is a token of our appreciation for all of your hard work you put in from the Hummel addition project,” Sutherland told Schroeder. “Hopefully your life will go back to normal and you can cherish the memories for a job well done.”
This weekend marked the opening of “Mapping Missouri,” a traveling exhibit from the Missouri State Archives. The exhibit features seldom-seen maps from the archives’ collection and will be on display through August.
Later in the year, the museum will have a display from the state archives on Missouri fairs, Sutherland said, and an exhibit is planned detailing the history of the Central Wesleyan College.
Now that more room is available, the historical society plans to change exhibits and displays on a more regular basis. The museum also will have expanded hours, with the facility open Tuesday through Sunday.
“I’m glad we are to this point,” Sutherland said. “I think our job is complete and now we can look forward to working on new projects.”