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Michener House Museum re-opens after renovations

After a year-long closure, Lacombe's Michener House Museum opens for a new season

Just in time for the busy summer season, Lacombe's Michener House Museum is open after a year-long restoration process.

A grand re-opening was held on May 25 with tours, refreshments, and an opening talk by Samantha Lee, interim executive director for Lacombe Museums.

"Today, we have gathered to celebrate the completion of a year-long renovation and modernization project that the Lacombe Museum undertook for the Michener House Museum," she said.

"A stroke of serendipity has also brought us here today to celebrate 130 years since the house was built, and 40 years since the house was opened to the public as a museum.

"Hopefully, everyone who passes through the doors today and into the future feels that it was an appropriate birthday gift for us to give to the site - a site which has witnessed the development of Lacombe since its inception as a settlement."

Lacombe's oldest building, the Michener House is the birthplace of Roland Michener, who served as Canada's Governor-General from 1967 to 1974.

MIchener was born in 1900 during the time his father Edward was a minister in the community.

Meanwhile, Lee said some of the changes in the house are fairly subtle, including plaster repairs, new lighting, and the re-painting of much of the interior.

"A doorway that had been closed back in the 1980s has been re-opened, and the original hardwood in the 1918 addition - which is the west side of the house - has been uncovered and resurfaced," she explained.

"For most of the past 40 years, the displays in the house were relatively unchanged, and the public could only access the 1894, or the front part of the house," she said. 

"And while the 1894 part of the house continues to focus mostly on the building's history as the Grace Methodist Church manse, and the history of the Michener family themselves, the brand new display areas in the 1918 addition will take our guests on a journey through the development of early Lacombe. 

"We now can share more stories and share more about what makes Lacombe a vibrant and diverse place to live," she added.

"Some areas of the house were redesigned with the future in mind as we do not want another 40 years to go by before an update. We have chosen themes that can be easily added to or modified to ensure that the house remains interesting and engaging for our visitors," she said, adding that support for the project came from the federal, provincial, and municipal levels of government.

"Without the support that has been provided, this project wouldn't have been possible."

Lee also thanked museum staffers both past and present who were integral to the project's success from the start, including former executive director Melissa Blunden.

City councillor Don Gullekson said that in his travels, he often hears comments about Lacombe's historic downtown.

"But that isn't all there is, we also have buildings like this one, and other historic homes around our community that help to make it what it is," he said.

"So it's very exciting that this renovation has happened."

Coun. Thalia Hibbs also thanked everyone who contributed to the project over the past year.

"I know that the staff has put in countless hours, and we also rely on our volunteers heavily, so we appreciate them, too. We all appreciate this building, and everything that the Lacombe Museum does in this community," she said.

"It's really important for a community to hold onto its history and where it comes from. It's important to honour and understand that, and to learn from it."














Mark Weber

About the Author: Mark Weber

I've been a part of the Black Press Media family for about a dozen years now, with stints at the Red Deer Express, the Stettler Independent, and now the Lacombe Express.
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