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Everything old is new again


Public invited to view remodeled museum at grand re-opening Saturday



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Ron Brock, president of the Northeast Oakland Historical Society, sits in the parlor display of the newly remodeled historic museum in downtown Oxford. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
March 12, 2014 - The Northeast Oakland Historical Museum in downtown Oxford will emerge from its winter slumber with a grand reopening event on Saturday, March 15 from 1-4 p.m.

"We usually close in February to do cleaning. This year we did a lot more," said Ron Brock, president of the Northeast Oakland Historical Society (NEOHS).

"We did a lot of remodeling. The main floor is completely different now. It really looks great."

The museum now features a cleaner layout with more organized and efficient displays that offer visitors greater access to the diverse collection of local artifacts that tell the story of how people in this area lived, learned, worked, worshiped and played in the 19th and 20th centuries.

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"Before, it was just kind of a mishmash of things being displayed," Brock said. "Now, it's divided into different vignettes. There's a dining room, a parlor, music room, children's room, even a church scene."

The parlor scene is centered around an old fireplace. Brock said it's located in the area of the museum that used to house the president's office back when the building was Oxford Savings Bank from the 1920s through 1960s.

"Ninety-five percent of the people that have come through here never realized there was a fireplace," he said.

Brock noted a 32-foot-long, 3-foot-wide shelf that hangs 8 feet off the ground was constructed to better display an array of items, many of which used to be on the floor.

"It's got a sense of order to it," he said.

NEOHS member Sue Bossardet, who worked on the project, loves the new look

"It flows really well," she said. "It's 110 percent better. I'm excited about it. It's just so much more open. There's so much more room. It's so much bigger.

"You can actually walk around. Last year, at Celebrate Lone Ranger, my God, it was so crowded in there. People couldn't even move from display case to display case. Now, it's all open."

The new layout affords visitors unfettered access to the artifacts and placards describing them.

"There are no more ropes on the first floor," Brock said. "You can walk right up to things and look at them."

"They can walk up and look in the display cases rather than standing 10 feet away," Bossardet said. "It will be nicer for the school kids (on field trips) because instead of standing out in the middle of the room and us trying to point things out, they'll actually be able to walk up to the case and have an experience. They'll be able to walk into a parlor and feel how it used to be."

Bossardet noted she plans to have the museum's musical instruments tuned.

"We'll be able to play them, or at least attempt to play them, so the kids can hear the sound," she said.

Brock said the remodeling was definitely a team effort that involved lots of folks including John DuVal, Darryl Lambertson, Marilyn Bossardet, Rob Burns, Donna Bossardet, Bryan Cloutier, Marie English and Ron Nelson.

"There were a lot of people who worked on it. We worked pretty hard and long," Brock said. "Sue Bossardet has just about lived there. She could have put up a cot and stayed there."

When asked if the basement was remodeled as well, he replied, "We just got the main floor done. That was enough for this year."

Brock hopes the grand re-opening will draw lots of visitors. He said prior to the February shutdown, things were slow at the museum this winter.

"Not many people want to go out when it's below zero," Brock said.

Having a local historical museum is a valuable community asset, in his opinion.

"I see the museum as a way for the children, and the adults, to learn the history of where they live," Brock said. "You read in the history books at school about the world wars or the settling of America, but they don't really teach a lot about the local areas. It's kind of important."

"I think people need to know the history of Oxford – know about our ancestors, what they did and how they lived – and develop a sense of appreciation for that," Bossardet said. "I just want everyone to come and enjoy (the museum)."

The Northeast Oakland Historical Museum is located at 1 N. Washington St. on the northwest corner of M-24 and Burdick St. Museum hours are 1-4 p.m. Thursday, Saturday and the first Sunday of the month.

For more information, please call (248) 628-8413.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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