WORK IS UNDERWAY on the Calkins-MacQueen Home and Museum in downtown Perry. Construction projects throughout the state were suspended in March due to the ongoing health crisis, but with restrictions eased, the effort to repair Perry’s landmark museum has recommenced.

   In the absence of a plan to fund and maintain the upkeep of the stick-built structure, the Perry Historical Society has taken the lead in raising funds and overseeing a series of much-needed repairs – such as fixing the leaking roof and replacing the dangerous, outdated knob and tube electrical system, among others.

   Thanks to generous donations from numerous individuals and businesses, the Perry Historical Society has committed to spend approximately $18,000 repairing the home this summer. The roof has already been repaired, roughly 90 percent of the house’s electrical has been replaced, new period-correct gutters and downspouts have been installed (shown), as have exit signs and security lights, and a number of updates will begin in the near future.

   Fixing the roof and the electrical system were at the top of the list of repairs, but with those issues addressed, the Perry Historical Society can now begin updating the building’s plumbing, repainting the exterior, repairing water-damaged plaster and replacing the wallpaper on the ground level. Additionally, Consumer’s Energy will soon be burying the home’s electrical access line, after they catch up on a backlog of work orders that piled up while the stay at home order was in effect.

   The electrical work is being done by Keetch Electric, LLC, out of Perry, Winn’s Lighting in Owosso is rewiring all of the home’s chandeliers and a local contractor is currently milling period-correct columns for the front porch and is scheduled to strip and repaint the home. The shrubbery surrounding much of the home will be removed to accommodate the painting.

   The house, which was constructed in 1878, first served as the family home of Charles Calkins and was later home to Charles’ daughter, Bessie, and her husband,

Alexander MacQueen. The home was willed to the then-village of Perry in 1941 following Bessie’s death, and the Perry Historical Society turned the home into a museum in 1974.

   The Perry Historical Society, which was designated a 501(c)(3) in 2019, is working hard to restore the 142-year-old home  and preserve the historical documents and artifacts within for their “true owners,” the citizens of Perry. Once repairs to the Calkins-MacQueen Home and Museum are completed, the Historical Society plans to use the home and property as a public gathering place for the community, hosting events such as weddings, farmers’ markets, car and tractor shows and movie nights, among others.

   Billy Roback, the president of the Perry Historical Society, reports that the nonprofit group is also currently working with the city of Perry to establish a long-term care plan to finance the maintenance and upkeep of the home in perpetuity, “so we’re not in the same position 20 or 30 years from now.”

(Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)

Calkins-MacQueen Home and Museum was last modified: June 8th, 2020 by Karen Elford