ERIE – Considering the age of the farmhouse built by her great-grandfather, the seven years Sara Wise has spent working to turn the building into a museum aren`t so significant.

But that doesn`t mean the Erie resident won`t be happy to see the foundation started Saturday morning – it`s been a laborious campaign for Wise and others who have dedicated themselves to renovating the 126-year-old house on Jasper Road and filling it with artifacts of the town`s past.

“We`d like to preserve as much of Erie as we can,” Wise, 65, said. “There`s both mining and agriculture here. The original Erie was very diverse, with many different nationalities working in the coal mines.”

The effort to restore the house, which will sit on a 4-acre parcel once farmed by Wise`s ancestors, gained momentum over the past year with the enlistment of Rebecca Waugh, the county preservation coordinator for Historic Boulder, Inc.

With Historic Boulder`s technical assistance program, Waugh helped the Wise Homestead Museum fund get a $5,000 grant from the Colorado Historical Society. The Erie Historical Society, meanwhile, kept amassing donations and holding fund-raisers to put up the required $2,000 matching funds.

“It`s an overwhelming thing for a little town to do, and it`s not just a funding problem, but you really have to get all your ducks in a row,” Waugh said, citing the need for landmarking of the proposed site, getting non-profit status for the project and the extensive grant-writing needed for such an undertaking.

“And then you need the matching funds. It`s usually a 25 percent match, and that`s a lot of bake sales. You have to be very entrepreneurial, and you have to get the community together to help you,” she said.

Erie`s historical society, in addition to the bake sales it holds and donations it receives, raises money through raffles, an annual vintage baseball game and a booth at the town fair.

Some residents are anxious to see Erie`s past preserved have contributed building materials and promised a variety of items for display.

Wise said the wallpaper – now yellowed, cracked and peeling away from the newspapers used for insulation – will be duplicated. The same attention to detail will be carried to the rest of the project, down to the lilacs, irises and bluebells that once decorated her forefathers` front yard.

“But we`ll be investigating to be sure we have the same types of flowers they had,” Wise said.

Wise hopes the blacksmith shops across Jasper Road, now owned by nephews, can someday be reassembled to add to the project. She predicted farm equipment will be displayed on the rest of the 4 acres.

“It`s extremely important that we have these (museums), because they bring the community together,” Waugh said.


Originally published  3/27/1998, republished courtesy Daily Camera