Supporters of the Rainier Oregon Historical Museum are looking to the future to preserve the past.
After searching for a location to expand the museum that is currently housed in a room at the Rainier City Hall, the museum board began discussions with the Rainier School District to site the museum in a modular facility at the school district campus on Old Rainier Road.
Hearing the need for the facility, local businessman Steve Oliva stepped in and donated a small parcel of land along West A Street across from the Rainier Senior Center for the new museum building.
Jason Schmidt, of JRS Trucking, is donating time and equipment to clear the site. That work began on Wednesday morning, Oct. 28.
"We are very fortunate to have this property donated for the museum," Rainier Oregon Historical Museum President Kay Heflin said.
Specific designs of the new building are pending.
"It depends on how big we go and how much money we can raise," Rainier Oregon Historical Museum Vice President Duane Bernard said. "Right now it looks like just under $300,000 for the size of the building we would want. Decisions about that are still down the road."
Bernard and Heflin said a community funding drive is already underway to collect the needed money.
Heflin said the small, one room museum at city hall limits the number and size of historical items that can be displayed.
"We've had to turn people away because we just don't have the room for their items they want to donate," she said. "It is the history of Rainier that we are collecting. If we don't do this now the history is going to be lost. There is no place for it to be saved."
Rainier Mayor Jerry Cole said the museum is a critical connection for the community.
"Saving any history of Rainier and keeping it for generations to come is important," Cole said.
Heflin estimates that the funding drive, designing and building the new facility will take about two years.
"We have a long way to go," she said. "This is a work in progress."
To donate to the Rainier Oregon Historical Museum, or to become a member, call Bernard at 503-556-9661, or email Heflin at firstname.lastname@example.org.