Historical society to hold courthouse mortgage burning party

Kevin Bunch
The Ye Olde Courthouse in Omer will host a mortgage burning party Aug. 18, when the Arenac County Historical Society celebrates paying off the $85,000 mortgage on the structure in eight years.

OMER — The Arenac County Historical Society is holding a party to celebrate paying off its $85,000 mortgage on Ye Olde Courthouse building in Omer in eight years.

The party is set for Aug. 18 from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m., with a program beginning at 2 p.m., according to Trustee Joann Gulau. The program will start with Trustee Brenda Matt talking about the history of the building followed by Jesse Young, treasurer with the local Masonic group that used to own the building, talking about how they started meeting there.

Gulau said that after Young, Bob and Carol Britt will talk about why they bought the building from the Masons and why they ended up selling it to the historical society. Matt and Gulau will then talk about purchasing and paying for the building, and Phyllis Klender will go into the effort to get the items used in the junque sales that helped raise the money for the mortage.

The mortgage burning will end the speaking program, though Gulau did not believe they had picked out who will get to do the honor yet.

Historical society President Sandy Proulx said volunteers would also be giving attendees tours of the building, showcasing areas like the jail, the unfinished stairway, and the mason’s museum.

Proulx said the building was paid off through donations, the junque sales and the bake sales held throughout the year at the courthouse. The Arenac County Historical Society is currently hoping to raise $30,000 to repaint the building, a process Proulx said will be more involved than simply putting a new layer of paint on it.

“Right now there are several layers of paint on there, and (the volunteers) see several layers are lead-based paint, so that all has to be dealt with accordingly,” Proulx said. “(The Environmental Protection Agency) says lead-based paint can’t be touching the air. It has to be contained, and that’s what is going to cost a lot of money.”

Additionally, she said some of the boards may end up needing replacement once the paint has been removed and the historical society can get a better look at them, which would be an additional expense.

Gulau said the society is not planning on doing much fundraising during the party, though.

“The donation jar is there, but we’re not there to make money,” Gulau said. “We just want to celebrate paying the building off, and to thank everyone for helping us.”


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