St. Pat’s Dinner fundraiser to help keep museum going

The Des Arc Museum and Community Center is located in a disbanded Baptist Church that was donated to the organization.  The eight-member board has found that the larger building requires more money to operate and so that means more fundraisers.

A St. Patrick’s Day corn beef and cabbage, ham and beans dinner has been planned in the community of Des Arc.  The event is one of a number this year designed to help fund the operation of the Des Arc Museum and Community Center.

“About three years ago we started a museum at Des Arc and we’ve been moving along with it,” said Jackie Brandmeyer, one of the organization’s volunteer board members. “The Baptist Church disbanded and donated their building to the museum.  We were basically across the street and we were able to move and be in a larger building now.”

Brandmeyer grew up in the community, and although she now lives in Bonne Terre, she visits often and has strong ties to Des Arc.

“We have been struggling though, trying to get young people in the community involved,” she said.  “There is a group of eight of us – we call ourselves the Des Arc Museum and Community Center Committee - we are incorporated and we are working on getting a 501 3C designation so we can qualify for grants.”

Before the church donation, the museum was in another, smaller building in town.

“We were just squatters in the other building and all we had was an electric bill and we didn’t have any heat or water,’ Brandmeyer explained. “But now we need to keep this building heated in the winter to keep the water from freezing. So 

we have utilities and insurance now to pay for.

“So we need to do some fundraisers.”

She said they are beginning by inviting people to see the museum. It is open on Saturdays from April through October.  This year it will officially open on April 7.

The St. Pat’s Dinner is on Saturday, March 17.  All you can eat for a donation.  For more information, call 573-358-7520.

Brandmeyer said the church is a great facility for what they need.

“We have our museum upstairs in the old classrooms,” she said. “We left the sanctuary as it was so people could have weddings and funerals. We have a dining hall downstairs that is walk-out basement, handicapped accessible, and it seats about 120 people with a full kitchen. It is a really nice building.

“We have a library room where anyone can place family history books and it has historical photos of people who have lived in the area. 

“Another room has things from the old businesses that used to be in Des Arc - a big white weigh scale, flyers, a wall-telephone from the Des Arc Telephone Company.  My grandpa put the telephones in Des Arc.  I actually have the switchboard that I’m trying to restore somewhat before I put it in the museum.

“We have a Veteran’s Room, a farm machinery room – with old farm tools,  a household room with Doris Brooks’ old wood cookstove, an old phonograph from a local home, and a big colander and fry pans from the Des Arc School cafeteria.

“And we have a school room - class photos and the blackboard from the first Des Arc School – just boards painted black.”

There is an annual quilt show planned in April and the Memorial Day School and Community reunion.