Clark County Historical Museum takes a look “Through the Decades” in upcoming exhibit


Clark County’s leading historical site will reflect on its past during an upcoming exhibit celebrating its 60th anniversary of being open to the public.

The Clark County Historical Museum, located at 1511 Main Street in Vancouver, will celebrate its anniversary at 11 a.m., Friday, May 24. The site will open a new exhibit, “Through the Decades: CCHMuseum at 60,” which will detail its history of exhibits, highlight local contributors and showcase its impact on Clark County throughout its history.

The Clark County Historical Museum opened in 1964 after the City of Vancouver gifted its unused Carnegie Library building, built in 1909, to the Clark County Historical Society (CCHS), previously known as the Fort Vancouver Historical Society. The opening marked a significant milestone for the organization, which began its journey to preserve the county’s historical buildings in 1909.

Public historian Katie Bush said the exhibit will showcase the museum’s history in a timeline format, from its inception to the modern day.

“(The exhibit) will go around the room, chronicling some of the big events from the museum’s history with some great photos in the background,” Bush said. “There will be a mod ’60s look, so it’s real fun and playing on the whole theme of being the 60th anniversary of the ’60s.”

Public Programs Manager April Pereira explained that the exhibit will showcase the historical society’s members and donors who made the opening possible. The museum’s first exhibit to open focused on a general store and doctor’s office from the 1800s, complete with medical tools used from the time. Dr. John Brougher, a leading member of CCHS, donated several tools he had collected for the museum’s first exhibits.

“Because Dr. Brougher was one of our founding members, we have a fairly large collection from small businesses over time and from the medical field,” Pereira explained.

The upcoming exhibit will also highlight the historic preservation contributions from other leading members throughout the years, including former CCHS board member Hermine Decker. In the ’60s, Decker was an important leader in convincing Vancouver’s City Council to maintain one of its last Victorian-era style houses, “The Slocum House,” as a historical site, as many other houses were bulldozed at the time. The house, built in 1867, remains at Esther Short Park.

"She comes up a lot in our research, and (took) a lot of the photos that we have in our collection,” Bush said. “She’s a prominent figure in our early history.”

The exhibit will also showcase the museum’s recent history. A massive $1,250 check from local nonprofit “Cruise the Couve,” which was donated to the museum in 2017, will be featured. Executive Director Bradley Richardson said the item represents a turning point in the museum’s history. Pereira explained the donation marked a major milestone as CCHS began to exponentially grow its investment into workshops and county tours. Richardson said he is looking forward to the exhibit’s opening and said the self-examination of the museum’s history has been eye-opening.

“I think it’s incredible to think we’ve come this far,” Richardson said. “The opportunities we’ve learned from the past will help us to improve in the future.”

On the exhibit’s opening day, at 11 a.m., Friday, May 24, staff will photograph a blue ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the building, replicating its historic opening day photo from May 24, 1964. The exhibit will open for guests shortly after the ribbon cutting. A sensory-friendly exhibit opening is set from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Saturday, May 25. Afterward, a scavenger hunt will take place inside the museum. Entry fees will be waived on both days. The exhibit will be open for more than a year, according to staff.