Updated: Friday, 26 Mar 2010, 10:13 PM CDT
Published : Friday, 26 Mar 2010, 4:28 PM CDT
APPLETON - The flag outside the historic Hearthstone house in Appleton shows it's open, but often the mansion is an afterthought to those driving by.
Museums, like many non-profit organizations, are struggling financially. Money is tight, and often, they work in a deficit.
"We're struggling,” said Tricia Adams, Executive Director of the Hearthstone, the first hydroelectric house in the world. “We are at a point where we constantly second guess every purchase."
Just down the road from the Hearthstone is the History Museum at the Castle. While they're seeing more visitors, they're seeing fewer dollars from corporate donations.
"Not only were (businesses) unable to justify large gifts to the community when they were laying off people, but because of the layoffs and the economy, basic human needs in this community increased exponentially," said Terry Bergen, Executive Director of the Outagamie County Historical Society.
Some say they would rather give to organizations that focus on basic needs, like a warming shelter or food bank. Julia Stringfellow, an archivist at Lawrence University, doesn't want to see the historic museums lose programming, or worse, close.
"If Hearthstone in particular and other museums were to close, we'd lose that history, we'd lose that record of Appleton," said Stringfellow.
It could happen in Kaukauna. One place that may have to close is the Grignon Mansion, which is run by the Outagamie County Historical Society, the same group that operates the History Museum. It's already scaled back on its hours and it may have to be given away to the Kaukauna Historical Society. That's if it chooses to accept it. Otherwise it will sit empty.
Bergen says at least the History Museum will keep its doors open.
"We are entirely sustainable,” she said. “We will not go away because of our endowments."
As long as the museums are open, the preservation of Appleton history remains in tact.