A corner in Union that includes the Franklin County Historical Society’s museum will soon be a park, according to trustees for the late Bob Hansen.
The Robert E. Hansen Trust announced Monday that it plans to build a park where buildings Hansen owned are located, at the northwest corner of East Main Street and North Oak Street, and deed the park to the city of Union, according to a news release. Final terms are expected to be reached by the end of the year with construction starting in mid-2022.
“The trustees are excited to be able to further Bob’s wishes on this project and look forward to completing with the city of Union,” the release reads.
Hansen, who died in June, helped launch East Central College and was on its board from 1968 until 1996. He took on the family business, Hansen Franklin County Land Title & Abstract Co., and also co-owned Hansen-Schroeder Realtors. He allowed the historical society free use of his buildings, first at 15 N. Oak St. and now at 209 E. Main St., for a decade.
The historical society museum in downtown Union will get to stay open a bit longer than initially thought, but the group is still looking for a new home for the all-volunteer museum.
After first being told to vacate the building as soon as possible, historical society board President Lynn Wagner said they since received a letter telling them they have until the end of 2021 to leave.
That leaves the historical society trying to raise $400,000 for a new museum space. So far, they say fundraising has been slower than they would like.
“When Bob passed suddenly, it threw a wrench into a lot of things for a lot of people,” Wagner said.
Although they appreciate any donation, they say many have been in the $10 to $50 range.
“We need some of the businesses to step up,” Wagner said. “We need larger donations — $5,000, $10,000, $20,000. Those are what we need to add up.”
Board members have looked at a few possible buildings but said some are in need of major repairs, and others don’t have doors large enough to fit some of their larger items.
Historic items also need to be kept in a low-humidity building. They would prefer a location like their current one, near the old county courthouse, but would go to any suitable building in the central part of Franklin County. They also would like a facility comparable to the current building’s 2,400 square feet.
Board members say losing the museum would have a negative impact on the community.
“The town is losing so much; the county is losing so much,” said board member Jenny Wallach. “If you drive down the road, history is just leaving us.”
The museum is open from noon to 4 p.m. the first and third Wednesdays and second and fourth Saturdays of the month. But since it closes for winter, its last day in the current location is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 24.
“Once we close, we can work on starting to pack and preserve,” Wagner said.
The day after the museum closes, Sunday, Oct. 24, the historical society will hold its annual History Fair from 1-4 p.m. at the KC Hall in Union, 700 Clearview Drive.
The event, which wasn’t held in 2020, will feature 20 vendors, including the Daughters of the American Revolution, Franklin County Honor Flight and a mountain man reenactor. Antique cars will be on display, along with items the museum has not displayed before, such as a receipt from the purchase of an enslaved person in 1802 and letters sent from a man in a Civil War prisoner-of-war camp in Alton, Illinois, back home to St. Clair, Wagner said.
Donations can be mailed to Franklin County Historical Society, P.O. Box 293, Union, MO 63084 or made online at bit.ly/2VlUGgO.