A home for historyMar 02, 2020 01:49PM ● By Joyce Alexander
Palisade’s first permanent history museum will open as soon as this spring.
Palisade’s history reveals a story of hardworking and innovative people who recognized the area’s potential and developed it into the “peach and wine capital” it is today. For the past 10 years, the Palisade Historical Society has preserved the town’s intriguing history. This year, however, it will open its first permanent publicly accessible history museum.
Priscilla Walker, chair of the historical society’s board of directors, is excited about the new addition to the town.
“The new museum will give people a perspective on where we came from and the sacrifices our predecessors made—an appreciation of what these people did and what they accomplished,” said Walker.
A museum without a home
The museum has been a long time coming. When the historical society was incorporated in 2010, it existed as a virtual museum for two years until a small office became available in the Palisades National Bank on Main Street. The organization operated the History Center there until 2017, when they had to relinquish the space.
Even without a public space, the society continued to stay visible in the community by presenting programs to schools, senior living centers and other groups, while also giving guided walking tours and teaching classes at nearby colleges. But the organization yearned to secure a permanent museum space.
they don’t teach this in schools
Kirk and Cyndy Bunte offered the organization a long-term, low-cost lease on a log shop on Highway 6 near Elberta Avenue. The shop had been built by Kirk’s grandfather, George Bunte, Jr.
Once remodeling work on the shop is complete, popular items from the society’s stint at the bank building will be on display again. Historical objects include 73 years of Palisade High School senior class photos, fruit box labels from Palisade growers, memorabilia from the Cameo Mercantile and coal mine, and momentos from longtime U.S. Rep. Wayne N. Aspinall, who grew up in Palisade.
In addition, history aficionados can look forward to seeing a 1951 Chevrolet orchard hoopie and many of the thousands of photos from the society’s collection, including those depicting early fruit growers’ inventions.
“This will be a huge educational resource,” noted Walker. “It will showcase Palisade’s history—a history they don’t teach in schools.”
The making of a museum
Before work on the pre-1939 shop could begin, the organization faced two hurdles: raising funds and navigating the permit process. With the help of nonprofit consultant Illene Roggensack, the organization received grants from the Bacon Family Foundation and Goodwin Foundation, and the Town of Palisade pledged $15,000 for the project.
Architect and historical society board member Jaime Cox, who donated her time to the effort, drew up plans for transforming the Bunte Shop into a museum space.
“Structurally, we’re putting new bones into the existing skin,” Cox said.
The facility will be ADA compliant with a handicapped parking area. Inside, the facility will feature recessed and track lighting, and storage space will be available in the loft.
Construction began in January. Time and materials were donated by master electrician Gary Rupp, Russ Bell, Whitewater Building Materials and MIB Construction, among others. Currently, interior walls have been framed in and the drywall is set to be hung. Completion is expected in the late spring or early summer.
SUPPORT THE PALISADE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
As of publication, the historical society has raised $85,000 of the $125,000 needed to complete the museum. At the moment, construction has caught up to the fundraising.
To support the museum, visit www.historicpalisade.org or mail checks to:
Palisade Historical Society P.O. Box 631 Palisade, CO 81526Explore the BEACON Guide.