By Alison Costanzo, Executive Director
It was another year of major progress for us at the St. Charles History Museum! Back in the beginning of January, we held our annual meeting of the Board of Directors and members, and on February 4th, I gave our annual presentation to the City Council. Needless to say, there has been a lot to recap! We held several large-scale events, added programming, stepped up our outreach in the community, and saw continued increases in visitorship and gift shop sales, as we welcomed over 12,000 visitors in 2018.
We kicked off last year by holding our 85th Anniversary Celebration and Membership Drive Luncheon at Hotel Baker. We packed the house and are proud to say that the event helped us bring in about 50 additional members. In June, we once again held our “Best of St. Charles Foodie Fest” which brought in 300 attendees as we partnered with 21 local restaurants. This is always one of our marquee events of the year; and this year we hope to expand on its success by bringing in additional restaurants from surrounding communities this year.
In the fall, we partnered with the Downtown St. Charles Partnership and St. Charles Public Library to hold the inaugural historic walkable downtown tour. This self-guided tour features signs at over 20 historic locations around the downtown St. Charles area with historical facts and information. If you haven’t taken a walk to explore the stories of our local buildings and historic sites, I encourage you to do so once the weather warms up!
Additional events that we hosted were the Historic Home trolley tours, Mystery History Food Crawl, Grave Reminders Cemetery Walk, the Holiday Hotspot Open House at the Electric Light parade, and more. We also got some exposure on the national scale as local resident celebrity Donnie Wahlberg dropped by as part of his A&E Reality TV Series, Wahlburgers.
We are currently moving forward with our Strategic Planning project. We have completed the first phase of planning as we collected over 180 surveys from our community stakeholders - thank you to all who took the survey and provided feedback! The next steps in the process are to analyze the results with our Board of Directors, and to hold a focus group to delve more into aspects of our future plans. This process will help us to better guide us in our mission of preserving and telling the stories of our vibrant and beautiful city. Thank you to everyone who visited, volunteered at, or donated to the museum in 2018. We couldn’t have done it without you and we are excited to continue building with you into the future!