It was a year ago, on October 11, that the Sun Times ran a story titled, “Fairfield’s Wonderful, Untapped Resource.”
Near the end of the story was this line, “If you would like to learn more, there is a meeting planned in the museum [old GID office] building on Thursday, October 25, at 5:00 p.m.”
About a dozen showed up for that meeting, and out of that The Fairfield Historical Society (FFHS) came to be.
Last Thursday, members of FFHS gathered for a brief meeting followed by a time for members to visit with each other and informally chat about the Society’s progress and plans for the future.
As the members chatted, they enjoyed a large red velvet cake, and an even larger vanilla cake with chocolate icing. Both of the cakes were from Fairfield’s Cozy Corner.
Up close, any undertaking of this size and nature, seems to move slowly; at the “pace of bureaucracy.” As the members celebrated the first annual milestone and reviewed the progress, it was clear that a lot has happened.
During that first year, the Society was formed, a board was elected, monthly meetings were held, ideas were presented, and suggestions were made.
Successful fundraising was undertaken and Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation were crafted. In record – 30 days - time the Society earned its 501 (c) 3 Nonprofit status and the Society, during the first year, has made progress in digitizing the photos and documents that record the history of the Sun River Project and the Project’s impacts on the development of the region.
During last week’s meeting, Society co-chair Trudy Whitmore reported that the Bureau of Reclamation has approved the Special Use Permit (SUP) for the old GID office building and several acres of BoR property on the west side of Highway 89 North.
In making the announcement of the approved SUP, Whitmore expressed the thanks of the board to the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce for their assistance. Under the earlier version of the “Irrigation Museum,” the SUP was under the name of the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce.
Now that the permit is in place, The Fairfield Historical Society can begin the process of preserving the building and making it suitable for a public museum.
According to Society board member Diane Hausmann, the group is investigating the possibility of listing the building as a National Historic Landmark. “This would involve a lot of work on the part of the Fairfield Historical Society,” said Hausmann. “But it would ensure the preservation of this part of Central Montana history for generations to come.” Hausmann added that designation would make more funding options available, and the designation would increase visitor traffic to Fairfield.
Fairfield Sun Times publisher Darryl L. Flowers, who serves as Society co-chair with Whitmore, said that on the priority list for the Society is fundraising during the upcoming Christmas season. “We’re already working on a 2019 set of Fairfield Historical Society notecards and selecting a historical photo for the Society’s raffle.” He added that new for 2019 the Society will be offering a calendar featuring a dozen photographs related to the Sun River Project and Greenfields Irrigation District.
For more information of The Fairfield Historical Society, they can be reached at email@example.com