Colony House Museum June 27th, 2009

Categories: History

The Colony House Museum is run by the Palmer Historical Society. It’s located on Elmwood Ave, across from the big, white borough building. The home belonged to Irene and Oscar Beylund, two original colonists of the Matanuska colony.  It was turned over to the Palmer Historical Society in 1998 to maintain and operate it. Children of the original colonists give tours Tuesday through Saturday, from 10-4.

The price for a tour is $2 for adults, $1 for children. I paid the $2 yesterday and entered for the first time. Apparently, if you’ve gone through elementary school here in Palmer, you’ve visited. But I was homeschooled till highschool, so this was my first.

Upon entering, one of the proprietors greeted me and showed me maps of the divided homesteads, each of 40 acres. She pointed to one, #189 and told me that was her family’s homestead, out near the butte. It was larger than 40 acres because some of it was unuseable. The ARRC (Alaska Rural Rehabilitation Corp) wanted each family to have 40 acres of workable land for agriculture. She also showed me a poster-size photo of Palmer taken in 1938. It was a lot more spread out then!

The living room is decorated with donated furniture from the 30’s and 40’s era and some original to the home. A large, upright piano takes up one wall. Each colonist family was allowed to bring 2,000 lbs of goods and personal items to Alaska with them. So, the owners of the piano lifted up the top lid and filled it full of clothes; they didn’t have any suitcases.

The kitchen is cheery with yellow cabinetry and a huge stove/oven sits opposite. The back entry has a milk separator in one corner; for separating the cream from the milk after milking the cows morning and evening. There are 3 bedrooms and a washroom. Old books, games and photos are found throughout the home, each donated by the families of original colonists.

I really appreciated the opportunity to look back into what life may have been like in my own town +70 years ago. The proprietor was full of humorous and interesting stories of life back then. She was just three when her family moved here. It was really neat to hear first-person what that life was like, and how people lived.

I definitely encourage you to go and visit the Colony House Museum. It’s worth far more than just $2 dollars; it’s our history, our heritage.

Photo 1 is a plaque recognizing Palmer’s outstanding seniors, class of ’38. Photo 2 is a nurse’s uniform worn by one of the nurses at the first clinic in Palmer. Photo 3 is of the Colony House’s kitchen. Photo 4 is of the child’s room. All photos are expandable if clicked on.

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