CHESAPEAKE CITY — Even if they are still setting up displays, volunteers are determined that that Chesapeake City Museum will open Saturday.
“We’ve spent the last year getting this ready to go,” said Rowan Cloud, curator of the museum at 98 Bohemia Avenue. “There have been plans for a Chesapeake City Museum since the 1980s.”
Those plans included Harriet Davis, who died in June 2020. Davis was known in town for her civic passion, which included leading the Historic Commission.
“So we said ‘Let’s go ahead and do this in her honor,’” Cloud said.
Cloud worked with Ava Zechiel and Holly Roddy to design and organize the space in Suite B. All are volunteers.
“The most difficult job has been archiving every document Harriet had kept,” Zechiel said. “It was just in boxes.”
“Harriet collected so many things,” Roddy said.
A lot of the papers and items came from Davis’ work with the Chesapeake City District Civic Association.
Dozens of boxes were full of papers with no rhyme or reason said Zechiel, the archivist and digital media person for the museum.
“A lot of it we did not know what it was or where it came from,” she said.
That included newspaper clippings of the Bohemia Manor High School sports teams.
There were also ledgers from the 1700s and 1800s, fossils and even an antique Treasury Certificate from Connecticut.
“Not sure why it’s here,” Cloud said, adding it is among her favorite discoveries as they worked through those boxes.”We found it in a box with 2014 high school basketball scores.”
Those fossils were identified as a baculite, an extinct cephalopod.
“Harriet had thrown them in a box with newspapers,” Cloud said.
“If we hadn’t gone through every piece of paper in every box we would had thrown that away,” Zechiel said.
The museum will open at 10 a.m. Saturday and be open until 4 p.m. Admission is free but donations are very welcome. Cloud said the volunteers are discussing how to bring the museum to long time Chesapeake City residents who may not be able to get there in person.
“My mom is in her 90s and she’s so excited about the museum,” Cloud said.
That was one reason why home visits were proposed.
“We could sit on the porch and talk,” she said.
There’s also talk of meeting with these older residents to conduct living history recordings before that cherished information is lost.
Cloud works at one of the shops in Chesapeake City. She learned quickly that knowing the town’s history was necessary because tourists ask questions. Now she looks forward to sharing her knowledge and Davis’ collection with others.
Other displays include a stove top manual washing machine, military uniforms and a model of the Chesapeake City Bridge over the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, which Cloud thinks was part of a parade float at some point. Also amongst the exhibits is a plaque honoring “Women of the Year” by the Women for Federal Restoration, Chesapeake City District.
With all that they have uncovered and placed on display, the ladies are still looking for specific items including Victorian-era clothing.
“We are looking for anything older, especially Ukrainian clothing,” she said.
The town has a rich Ukrainian history, which is featured in a section of the museum. Anything to do with the town’s marine history is also being sought.
“We’d also like an older waitress uniform from Schaefer’s Canal House,” she said.
One other need is volunteers. The only requirement is that the volunteer be at least 16.
“There’s a volunteer sign up form on the website,” Cloud said. “We can give volunteer hours for graduation.”
She noted that volunteers at the museum would get a leg up in their application for the scholarships awarded by the CCDCA.
For more information on the Chesapeake City Museum including volunteer possibilities go to https://sites.google.com/view/chesapeakecitymuseum/home
But make sure you’re in town Saturday at 10 a.m. because the ladies vow to be open “come hell or high water.”
“We’re determined to make it work this time,” Cloud said.