Since 1993, the Niwot Historical Society has been on a mission to collect, preserve, and share memories from the town's rich and storied past, which stretches back nearly 150 years. Starting Saturday, Nov. 27, you can help support that mission and check an item off of your holiday to-do list with the purchase of a limited edition Niwot greeting card, featuring original artwork and a short lesson in local history.
"The original watercolor paintings of a Niwot location have been donated for our use by the artists," NHS president Kathy Koehler wrote in an email interview. "Then, as part of the NHS mission to share Niwot history, we create a couple of paragraphs about the item that is painted. The winter note cards have the historical information on the back, outside of the card."
The NHS started producing its artful cards to send to members about eight years ago, but has resisted growing demands for blank versions, Koehler explained. That has changed in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hampered the non-profit organization's usual fundraising activities.
The note cards are available in two designs, both by local artist and NHS member Jane Langdon. One features a vintage winter streetscape set on 2nd Avenue, and the other depicts the historic replica bandstand in Whistle Stop Park decked out for the holidays. For a donation of $20, you will receive a package of 10 cards with envelopes. NHS volunteers will be selling the cards at the Firehouse Museum (195 ½ 2nd Avenue) during the Niwot holiday parade, but quantities are limited, Koehler cautioned.
"A minimal number of cards were printed because we did not know if they would sell," she said.
The money raised from card sales will go into the society's general fund to help offset the costs of preserving and storing historical items and documents, which are coming fast and furious in the wake of so many unprecedented events in 2020 and 2021. Koehler also hopes it will help the organization return to more normal footing in 2022.
Which is not to say that the NHS has been idle for the past 20 months. Behind the scenes, board members and volunteers have been busy documenting the local impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in scrapbook form. In June, the organization celebrated the 100th anniversary of the building at 124 2nd Avenue, which started as a blacksmith shop in 1921 and now houses A Few of a Kind Vintage + Mercantile. The group even managed to continue its popular Now & THEN Lecture Series with videotaped presentations on topics ranging from women's suffrage, to railroads, to lithophones.
"To date we have offered 44 historic informative lectures and workshops," Koehler said. The series was launched in 2011 by then-NHS president Laura Skaggs. "Each lecture has been special in its own way and I have learned some history of which I was not aware, in each and every presentation."
Koehler and the board have big plans for the series in 2022, but haven't yet decided if lectures will be in person, as transmission of the Delta variant remains high in Boulder County.
"One of the lectures we plan to present will be to document and then share with the community the history of the land and development of the Haystack Mountain Golf Course," she said. "The NHS is working with the Ebel family to obtain photos and stories of their years of ownership."
Koehler said that the group also hopes to resume working with local scout troops on exterior improvements around the Left Hand Grange, a project originally initiated by Eagle Scout Brandon Hult in 2019. The NHS is also exploring its options for replacing the door to the 1910 Fire House Museum, but that is probably a longer term project.
"Because the little Fire House Museum is landmarked, it must be preserved as close as possible to the way it looked when it received landmark designation," Koehler explained. "Therefore, we need to locate a door that is as similar as possible to the current door. If we were to have a carpenter who is experienced with that era woodwork to reset or replace parts, one estimate was in the $5,000 range. So we keep our eyes open for a similar paneled and age appropriate door."
In the meantime, the NHS is getting ready to send its 2021 holiday card to members, featuring an original painting of the Bader/Knaus/Poet Farm by artist and longtime NHS member Donlyn Arbuthnot. The group is also seeking any items of local historical importance, and volunteers who want to help preserve them. For more information on donating, becoming a member, or volunteering for the NHS, visit niwothistoricalsociety.org or contact [email protected].