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Museum event offers living history lesson

Famous people from the past will come alive again in downtown Springfield on Saturday evening.

The sixth annual Night At The Museum takes place in one of the most historical settings in our community, the Heritage Center of Clark County, Saturday evening from 6 to 9:10 p.m.

Visitors will interact with the likes of Orville Wright, A.B. Graham, Lillian Gish, Simon Kenton, George Rogers Clark, O.S. Kelly, Shawnee Chief Black Hoof and even President and Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt. Organizers say this year, Amelia Earhart will be flying in for her first appearance.

In addition, Frontiersmen and sister suffragettes will mix with farmers from the 1920s as the stories of Clark County are told by those who left their mark on our community, state and nation and once used the artifacts on display in the museum.

Dancers will grace the entry hall. The infamous Fair at New Boston Ratcatcher will make sure that no vermin will bother visitors.

Uniformed soldiers from the Revolutionary War to the Cold War will inhabit the Military section. A reception will be held in the Hellmuth Rotating Gallery on the second floor with music provided by the Springfield Dulcimer Club.

My experience with the event started several years ago, when I was asked to portray Gus Sun, who worked here in Springfield and was the booking agent for big name entertainers like Lillian Gish, the Marx Brothers, Mae West, Bob Hope, Eddie Cantor, W.C. Fields, and Burns

and Allen.

He built the Regent Theatre in downtown Springfield, and when he had his office there, it was one of the busiest Western Union telegram sites in the country.

The evening is certainly both educational and entertaining.

Readers of this column know of my fondness for history, especially the local variety. Our community is blessed with a rich heritage.

I have been fortunate to learn most of it through interviewing and interacting with people who are much more knowledgeable than I am.

Many of them are living history specialists that are involved in the various local historical groups, including the Fair at New Boston, the George Rogers Clark Heritage Association, the Clark County Historical Society, Crabill House, the Davidson Interpretive Center, Hertzler House and other community groups.

Some have spent years researching their characters and portray them on a regular basis at various places throughout the year.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Heritage Center of Clark County and George Rogers Clark Heritage Association.

There are many ways to learn history. As I look back over my school years, it seems the most common teaching method was from the textbooks or by writing on a blackboard. But living history — allowing the student to learn in a hands-on manner and to experience the material — is far more effective.

Night at the Museum provides that opportunity for people of all ages.

Advance reservations are necessary for the tours that begin at 10 minute intervals. You can reserve your tour by calling 937-324-0657, by visiting the Heritage Center at 117 S. Fountain Ave. in Springfield or at

Adult admission is $12, $10 for members of George Rogers Clark Heritage Association and the Clark County Historical Society, $5 for those younger than 18.

Contact this writer at or 937-328-0341.

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