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Historical Society asks for help to renovate Heslin House


Fairview City Council in process of drafting new lease agreement

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - In 1991, shortly after the death of Ted Heslin, the city of Fairview agreed to purchase the Heslin home to be restored as a local historic center. The Fairview-Rockwood-Wilkes Historical Society is asking the city of Fairview to assume a larger role in financial support of Heslin House, a historical structure owned by the city.

Fairview city councilors toured Heslin House at 60 Main St. for a special work session Wednesday, July 23.

The council is in the process of drafting a new lease agreement for the Heslin House property that exists between the city and Fairview-Rockwood-Wilkes Historical Society, recently renamed the East County Historical Organization.

“We have been operating under (an) expired agreement for a long time,” said Councilor Steve Owen, who is council liaison for both Heslin House and ECHO.

Councilors were touring the historic home, including some who had never been there, to better understand how annual funds the city provides to the volunteer-run organization for maintenance are spent.

The city acquired Heslin House in the early 1990s. In 2009-10, the city assumed responsibility for paying electricity, natural gas and security monitoring at Heslin House, Owen said. The city also takes care of mowing the grass and other small maintenance chores at the property, he said.

According to a document provided by ECHO, the historical society and volunteers have put in a tremendous amount of hours in house and garden restoration projects.

“This has left minimal resources for our primary mission at the Heslin House, which is to function as a museum,” said a Historical Society representative.

Owen said the amount of money the city provides will remain the same in the new agreement, but he said there are a few other items the council will need to agree on who will assume responsibility.

The main item, he said, is an upstairs room at the Heslin House, which the Historical Society has been using as an office/administration space, where volunteers catalogue items and do research.

Owen said the room has not been open to the public because of a steep — and unsafe — stairway.

“It’s going to cost $25,000 in order to make that area accessible to the public,” Owen said.

He said the Historical Society is looking to the council to provide that funding.

“The society would like to spend their money on exhibits and maybe some remodeling on the inside to show artifacts better,” Owen said. “They are not interested in spending money on a property they don’t own.”

Owen said Heslin House is a city asset and the city should take responsibility.

ECHO’s office and administration would be moved to the Zimmerman House at 17111 N.E. Sandy Blvd., leaving room for the display of artifacts in the upstairs room of Heslin House.

Owen said the tour was to showcase to councilors what the Historical Society does for the community, and what work needs to be done at Heslin House.

A section of the roof also needs repair, he said.

Owen said he hopes the Fairview City Council will have an agreement “pretty much worked out” between now and the next work session and regular council meeting Aug. 20.

Name change

The Fairview-Rockwood-Wilkes Historical Society’s board of directors, along with a nonprofit consultant, decided recently to change its name to something less confusing that would give the Historical Society a stronger identity.

The East County Historical Organization — or ECHO — was the result.

ECHO’s board of directors oversees the 1893 Heslin House and the 1874 Zimmerman House.

The nonprofit organization is “desperately” seeking volunteers to help out.

Hosts and hostesses are needed for tours on the third Saturday of the month. Volunteers also are wanted for yard work, minor building maintenance, member recruitment and organizing artifacts.

To volunteer, contact Twila Mysinger at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-695-2597.