Kenny Oestrich started going to sales and collecting
items from Centralia's past, storing them in a spare
bedroom of his home. To his amazement the room was
near-full in a year's time. He then took half of his
garage, remodeled it and moved the collection there,
calling it "The Centralia Room".
Centralia's local newspaper, The
Sentinel, did an article about Kenny's collection. A
local businessman, Nate Rothschild owned the old Glore
Lumber Co. building and after reading the article about
Kenny's collection called to offer items he'd found in the
lumber company building. After Nate viewed the contents of
"The Centralia Room", he proposed the idea of starting a
museum with Kenny. Subsequently, with the help of a local
group of men and women, a meeting was held to begin the
process of bringing this museum of Centralia forward.
Nate offered the second floor of
the lumber company building to house the museum, but there
were issues with the public entrance and gaining access to
the upstairs rooms. The committee decided to wait a couple
of weeks to consider what could be done to rectify the
problems. However, during that two-week period a fire
destroyed the entire Glore Lumber Company building.
The old Topper's building in the
100 block of East Broadway was offered to the group. There
would be no rent charged but the museum would pick up the
expense of the utilities. With the new location, people
started coming in and donating items for the collection.
It wasn't long before the new space was outgrown! Ralph
Sprehe offered the old Kohl & Meyer building to the
group, pictured on our home page. This most generous offer
was accepted, and is where we are today.
We are still collecting donated
items and also have items on loan. The collection has
grown to occupy all three floors, and we are considering
what it will take to expand into the basement. By all
means come and visit, and let the museum conjure up the
historical memories of yesteryear, learn a few new things
about our town and the surrounding community in Marion