TWO HISTORIC wood-burning stoves dating back to the early 1900s, produced by the Renown Stove Company of Owosso, are part of the collection assembled in the Calkins-MacQueen Home Museum in Perry. The smaller stove can be found in the home’s main living room on the first floor, while a larger stove with a cook top is the centerpiece of the kitchen.

(Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)

by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor

   The Perry Historical Society pulled out of negotiations with the city of Perry last week after the two sides could not come together on additions to the agreement regarding the care and restoration of the city’s oldest stick-built home, the Calkins-MacQueen Home Museum. The Perry Historical Society (PHS) requested additions to the agreement with the city, which dates back to 1974, because the historic structure is in need of a number of repairs.

   As Perry Historical Society President Billy Roback shared, the city’s most recent proposal called for the original agreement to be replaced, which was unacceptable to the nonprofit historical society. Instead, Roback and the PHS will work off the agreement that has been in place since 1974, which “has worked fine for the past 46 years.” Roback points out that the home belongs to the residents of Perry, not the city or the historical society, so rather than relying on the city to fund the building’s restoration, the PHS is initiating a membership drive to allow local residents to pay for the work themselves.

   Although constructed in 1878, the two-story home is quite structurally sound. The repairs that need to be made are mostly related to a roof leak that was left unrepaired for an extended period of time, resulting in extensive ceiling and wallpaper damage. Additionally, the home’s tuckpoint foundation needs to be repaired, and the knob and tube electrical system needs to be updated to mitigate the risk of fire.

   Since word of the negotiations between the city and the PHS reached the public, residents have come out strongly in support of the PHS and the museum. The PHS has secured commitments from a number of “generous benefactors” who are willing to fund the restoration of the museum. With assurances from the city that the Calkins-MacQueen Home will remain a museum now secure, Roback expects to begin work on the building’s restoration in the coming months.

   A number of local individuals and organizations have pledged to help Roback and the PHS restore the museum, with the goal of making the museum grounds more of a community meeting place. The PHS will continue in its mission to clean and restore the home, and there are an overwhelming number of artifacts/documents still in storage that need to be sorted and displayed throughout the home.

   Once the restoration work is completed, the PHS hopes to host such community events on the museum grounds as tractor shows, movie nights, a farmers’ market, food truck rallies and veteran honor events, among others. Plans are underway to re-establish the property’s gardens, and to add a walkway encircling the home that would be comprised of personalized pavers.

   Mayor James Huguelet has expressed his commitment to the Calkins-MacQueen Home, and he looks forward to working with the PHS to preserve and restore the museum. “It’s a beautiful old home, and we have been excited to see so many people come out in support,” said Mayor Huguelet. “The council and I have a lot of interest in seeing the home restored, and we remain willing to sit down with the historical society when they are ready. The door is always open.”

Perry Historical Society Pulls Request to Amend Museum Agreement was last modified: February 19th, 2020 by Karen Elford