A group of volunteers with the Tremont Historical Society (THS) had a vision. Seeking to highlight their town’s rich agricultural history, they took on the task of converting an historic brick waterworks building into the new Tremont Agricultural Heritage Museum. “We already had several items related to early agriculture in the area, and we knew of others who had interesting items to loan or donate,” explains THS board secretary Lori Fuoss. “We wanted to tell this story, so we transformed a dirty old building into a special spot for our community.”
Formerly a teacher at Tremont Grade School, Fuoss became familiar with Tremont’s agricultural history through a program she initiated called “Barn Buddies,” in which fourth and fifth-grade students interviewed the owners of historic area barns. After her retirement, she took that knowledge with her to the Tremont Historical Society. Exhibits at the new museum include early stock farms and family farmsteads, early agricultural tools, businesses related to agriculture, and the future of agriculture. There’s also space dedicated to honor the history of the building itself.
“The building, which was built in 1912, at one time housed the fire station with a fire hose cart pulled by men,” explains THS board member Rick Otey. “Concrete piers still remain at the side of the building that supported the village water tower.” Retired contractor Joe Venovich created a stained-glass rendering of the tower and building, which now rests over the door to the museum.
With the support of corporate sponsors and private donors, they updated the electrical, lighting, HVAC and more. Otey and THS president Rich Sauder coordinated the numerous professionals who donated their time and services to bring the project to fruition. “Our hope is that people will be able to enjoy the various displays for generations to come,” Otey adds. The museum, located at 367 S. Sampson St., will hold a grand opening on September 14 from 1 to 4pm. For more information, call (309) 840-0094 or visit facebook.com/tremontmuseum. PM