Old Trail dinner concludes year of 'good things' at museum
While Warren Macy certainly has a number of qualities that make him successful as current board president at the Putnam County Museum, clairvoyance is apparently not one of them.
If you had asked the veteran Greencastle physician his opinion of the museum's proposed Old Trail Inn dinners back in the summer, you wouldn't have gotten a positive answer.
Fortunately, speaking at the fifth sell-out of the now-monthly affairs at the Putnam County Museum on Sunday, Macy happily related that he'd been wrong.
"I must admit, when somebody came up with this idea four or five months ago, I thought, 'That's the stupidest idea I've ever heard. They'll be lucky to get 20 people there,'" Macy told the crowd of 120 or so. "So it came, and it sold out. And before that one even happened, they were planning the second one and it sold out. And they just keep selling out."
To a round of laughter, Macy also said he had doubted the recent inaugural Putnam County Hospital Gala that also quickly sold out, raising $30,000 for the Putnam County Cancer Center in the process.
"So the word is, don't ask me about fundraising ideas," Macy said.
And yet, the museum has done just fine for itself under Macy's leadership in the last year.
Speaking briefly to the members-only crowd, he opened by saying, "Good things keep happening to the museum."
One of these was taking possession of 1105 N. Jackson St. location the museum had shared with Cottage Gardens owner and landlord Mark Timm.
"To look back to a year ago today, we were renters," Macy said. "not only were we renters, we were renters with an eviction notice."
Timm had given the board of directors notice that they needed to either purchase the building or look elsewhere.
After a search, museum leaders decided they wanted to stay put, and voted in January to purchase the building from Timm on contract.
Buying the building was just step one, though.
With the building in the museum's name, a re-branding was needed. However, the desired signage came with a $30,000 price tag -- $30,000, that is, that wasn't exactly laying around right after the decision to purchase a building.
So Macy got to talking to a patient at his practice about the happenings at the museum, which included the need for the sign.
Back at the office the following day, the doctor got a call from home.
"My wife called and said, 'One of your patients just called and he's going to give the $30,000 for your sign,'" Macy related.
So up went the sign.
Much of the rest of the year went the same way -- roof repairs, cleaning and painting, a new awning and a resealed parking lot were all funded largely through donations.
Then came the coup-de-gråce -- an $18,000 grant from the Putnam County Convention and Visitor Bureau that a handful of members came together to match for a total of $36,000 for renovations.
With Timm having moved his inventory out of the north side of the old Kroger/Peoples Drugs-Haag Pharmacy-Hook's building, the museum had space to expand but lacked the funds to remodel the space.
"The problem is always money," Macy said.
Again, the good news came via Connie Macy, who told her husband she had read about CVB grants in the Banner Graphic.
The grant process was successful and the members could see the fruits of that effort on Sunday, sitting in a much large meeting room than the facility previously allowed.
"If we had not done this room, about 40 or 50 of you would still be at home," Macy said, "because we could only seat about 80 people."
The new room isn't quite finished, but it's polished enough that the board and Executive Director Lisa Mock were proud to show it off on Sunday.
"I wanted to give you all hard hats because, as you can see, it's not quite done," Mock said.
It was big enough, though, to host another good crowd, CVB officials passing an oversized check for $18,000 to board members and nostalgic, family-style dinner prepared by the folks from Myers' Catering and Myers' 5 East.
All of this led Mock to again retell the story of how the dinners came to be. After sending out a call for artifacts from the Old Trial Inn, Mock realized there wasn't much "stuff" just lying around from the legendary Putnamville eatery.
Instead, there were stories.
"Most of the artifacts were people," Mock said. 'We have a lot of memories of the Old Trail Inn."
More importantly, there were recipes, supplied by Maxine Williams.
The first dinner was served Aug. 6 and the sellouts have kept rolling in since. Although Sunday's dinner was just for museum members, the next public Old Trail Inn Dinner is set for Jan. 28 at the museum. Call 653-8419 for tickets or more information.
Additionally, if the past serves as an indicator, order tickets soon. They go fast, as does the grub for the capacity crowds.
"One of my board members said we would have 10 percent of the people not show up," Mock said. "And I said, 'No, that's not gonna happen.'"
On Sunday she was certainly right -- everyone showed up and if anyone went home hungry, they had themselves to blame.