Help secure the future of the historical society |

Help secure the future of the historical society

This week, the Aspen Historical Society is hosting Celebrate History Week. On Sunday, the Society held its annual Easter egg hunt at the Wheeler-Stallard House. On Tuesday at the Wheeler Opera House, the society staged “Skiing into the Past,” slightly more than one hour of films from the 1950s to the ’70s. Today it’s Après Ski at The Red Onion, with all 16 Snuffy O’Neil pictures – pastel caricatures of local characters that Snuffy created to cover his bar tab in the late ’40s – on display, and John Litchfield, original Red Onion proprietor after the war, will be on hand to reminisce from 4 to 6 p.m. These are the types of intensely local, small and special events that Aspen could lose if the historical society doesn’t succeed in its campaign for a tax district over the next six months. The historical society consistently produces small but important events that recall the colorful history that distinguishes Aspen from other resort towns.Over the past three years, Georgia Hanson has worked to rebuild the historical society’s board with locals willing to work hard to save the society. She and several board members have worked diligently to increase membership and general fund raising. Hanson has been successful, but not quite successful enough. Most small museums are supported in three distinct ways. One-third of their budgets comes from donations, one-third from earned income (admission fees, tours, events, etc.) and one-third from their local governments. This model is what the Aspen Historical Society is trying to emulate. The historical society will ask voters to approve a new taxing district in November. This district will allow the society to “maintain the status quo.” The organization isn’t asking for money for ambitious projects or million-dollar ski museums; Hanson has said she’d prefer to launch a capital campaign for anything like that. This three-tenths of a mill will provide operating funds of about $490,000 for the historical society each year.We believe the Aspen Historical Society is part of what makes this community special. Most resort towns don’t have the rich history that Aspen does, and Aspen’s history – from the Victorian architecture to the outlying ghost towns to the skiing heritage – is part of the reason most of us moved here. So go celebrate history at The Red Onion this afternoon and remember what the historical society brings to Aspen in the coming months. This is an organization Aspen can’t afford to lose.

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