Richmond Relic Hall a ‘labor of love’ for pioneer woman’s descendants

RICHMOND — Every old city has its stories and a rich array of heritage. Often hidden under the dust of years and forgotten by newer generations, these gems can be lost to us forever.

There are those who fight for the past, however. Lifetime Richmond residents Marie Lundgreen and Cheri Housley have what Housley calls “the vision of history.” Both women are descendants of Abigail Andrus, a pioneer woman who settled in Richmond. And like her they are strong, brave and dedicated to doing good. Lundgreen calls their volunteering efforts a labor of love.

“We have families, kids and grandkids,” Lundgreen says. “But Thursday is our day for the museum.” Tied to the history by blood the museum is a part of who these women are, not just what they do.

Referred to as the Relic Hall, this museum is full of hidden treasures. Passing from room to room you are surrounded by black and white photographs, old dairy bottles, and an impressive gun collection. If you were on a scavenger hunt with a scout troop you might find the skull from an old skeleton. All articles found in the museum were donated, and then preserved by Lundgreen and Housley.

If you go outside, only a few steps away from the museum you’ll find yourself entering what they consider one of their greatest and most successful projects, the Richmond Relief Society Building of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“The early pioneer women wanted a place to meet,” Lundgreen said. “The brethren of the church told them that if they could acquire the funds they could build their meeting house.”

Erected in 1880, the building went through many phases and served multiple purposes before restoration began in 1996. Eventually becoming a place for city storage, the old meeting house caught the eye of the local fire department. Wanting to use it for a practice burn, and then create extra parking from the empty space, the fire department was met with great resistance from many that opposed this idea. Housley and Lundgreen were there, along with others hoping to save this piece of history.

As the women guide you through out their beloved building, their pride and admiration can be seen on their faces and felt in their words.

“If we don’t preserve it how will people learn from the past? How can you live in the present, if you don’t understand you past?”

Published in cooperation with the Hard News Cafe. Original story is here.