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Five months after fire, Gresham History Museum welcomes back visitors with Christmas festivities

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - The Gresham History Museum reopens Saturday, Nov. 27. It's a Christmas miracle. Five months after a stranger set a fire and caused untold damage to priceless artifacts and exhibits, Gresham's History Museum will reopen its doors to the public just in time for the holidays.

On Saturday, Nov. 27, the museum, 410 N. Main Ave., welcomes its first visitors since the summer. There is plenty to celebrate with a busy slate of Christmas events. There is a Gingerbread House Competition, with divisions for youths, adults, and professionals; weekend photos with Santa; and holiday event space to rent. The interior of the museum is also decorated for Christmas with all the display cases back in place and multiple trees.

The Christmas activities at the Gresham History Museum will take place Saturday, Nov. 27, through Sunday, Dec. 19. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday.

From the ashes

This summer Gresham came close to losing its history museum. On July 2, a stranger snuck into the building, went to the second floor, piled up historic garments and started a fire. Though the blaze was relatively minor, only consuming a few articles of clothing and a patch of carpet, the water damage to the museum was pervasive and concerning.

The automated sprinkler system was triggered, and the water streamed down the walls and dripped from the ceiling, soaking priceless artifacts and pooling inches deep in the basement, which serves as the main storage area for the museum's rarest pieces.

No one was hurt, but the aftermath of the damage brought Museum Director Mark Moore to tears.

"It's hard to believe people don't respect our historical treasures," Moore said.

The former Gresham Carnegie Library was closed indefinitely as 10 humidifiers roared to dry wet spots and prevent the spread of mold blooms. The exhibits in the main room had to be removed, as did much of the historic documents in the backroom. The electrical systems in the museum were fried, as was a WIFI router that was destroyed by the water. Some sections of plaster walls had to be replaced as well.

"We were just getting our momentum back after COVID," Moore said. "All our volunteers were geared up, we were having steady visitors, and making sales in the gift shop. (We had) to start that process all over."

But thanks to public support and donations, the Gresham History Museum is able to be back in time for the holidays. Learn more about the upcoming events and how to support the Gresham Historical Society online at greshamhistorical.org


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