Restored 100-year-old Soldiers Sailors and Pioneers monument to reopen in May

The Butler County Historical Society is looking for a part-time curator to man the Soldiers Sailors and Pioneers monument in downtown Hamilton when it reopens in May.

Continuing a partnership that made the $500,000 restoration project a reality, the county and Hamilton Community Foundation will split the $24,000 annual cost to employ a curator and care for the collections in the museum. The monument will be open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Butler County Historical Society is hiring the curator, and Executive Director Kathy Creighton said they will soon begin taking inventory of the historic artifacts and war records housed in the monument that will go on display. She said they already know there are some photographs that have faded from the sunlight, so they will be changing the displays.

“We’re going to go in and make sure the collection is displayed in the correct way so there is no damage to the artifacts,” she said. “That’s why we probably aren’t going to be officially opening the monument until sometime in May, because there is a lot of work that has be done. A lot of the exhibits haven’t been changed in who knows how many years.”

Creighton said the new position will pay between $13,000 and almost $17,000 annually and the rest of the money will buy a computer and software for inventory maintenance and other business related to the monument. She planned to send the job description out to veterans groups in the area and advertise to get the word out. The applications are due March 1.

Applicants don’t have to be veterans, but she said that would add something to the position.

“Just to honor the integrity of the building. The building is about our veterans and our pioneers and we would like to find a veteran simply because the person would have the background of the military to talk about it,” she said. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be a veteran, but that would be our preference.”

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The restoration project was three years in the making after the Hamilton Community Foundation challenged Butler County commissioners to match a $250,000 grant they pledged to make critical repairs on the 100-year-old-plus monument. Roof leaks and a deteriorating exterior prompted the challenge.

John Guidugli, president of the foundation, said they have committed to funding for this year but he imagines the partnership will continue into the future.

“We thought it was important to ensure that once all this work has been done to the facility that it be opened and available for folks to get in and appreciate what’s there,” Guidugli said. “I think the partnership with the historical society presents a great opportunity for that to happen. We wanted to be part of making that happen.”

The county used Community Development Block Grant money to pay its share of the repair. The county had an in-depth study of the structure done by a well-known New York architect, and the original cost estimate was more than $1 million. The final cost, which included the unanticipated copper dome replacement, was $425,870.

County Administrator Charlie Young said the collaboration was exemplary.

“The thing I’m most pleased about is it’s been a partnership between the community foundation and now with the historical society,” Young said. “That’s reflective of how government is supposed to work, you collaborate and partner with people to make the community better.”

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