Fouts brings enthusiasm, big ideas to Historical Society | News

New Executive Director Heather Fouts is excited about the opportunities the Cass County Historical Society holds.

She saw potential in every corner. Offices on the second floor, a reading and study room, murals on the walls, storage space in the fireproof safes in the old vault, an open staircase.

But before any of that can happen, some basic construction has to happen.

“Buildings that are going to be used for library and museum purposes have a different weight load code that they have to meet,” she said. “This building does not meet that.”

Work began on Monday morning, November 21, to resolve the issue.

“Once the issue is resolved, we can move forward with the remodeling and setting up of exhibits and everything that was planned before,” Fouts said. “Until that one problem is solved, we can’t move forward.”

Everything has been a whirlwind since Fouts took the position in late October. Lately, the Historical Society has been busy moving books from their library location on 11th street and moving them to the main building on Broadway. The house on 11th Street is being sold.

Jerolaman-Long Home will also see a future remodel. Many of its artifacts will move to the main building, and the Jerolaman-Long Home will focus more as an early Cass County home life and architectural museum.

“Right now there’s a lot going through boxes from the (11th Street) building and there’s so many books,” she said. “So many pictures. So many scrolls. Some of these books are from the 19th century. They’re old. We have Civil War journals. It’s cool stuff. It doesn’t look cool on the table, but once we get a nice little area for it and we can advertise what we have, I think people will come and see it.”

Fouts was working in a bank in Kokomo when she decided to take college classes. Her counselor asked her what she wanted to be.

“I said either Indiana Jones or an art teacher,” she said.

She commuted from Kokomo to Indiana University Bloomington twice a week while working on her degree.

Before joining the Cass County Historical Society, she worked at the Howard County Historical Society and at the Seiberling Mansion.

Fouts said she loves storytelling and the potential that historical museums have to tell a community their personal story.

“I don’t think people start to realize the importance of their community’s history until they get older,” she said. “So it would be nice to create an experience that brings younger people in so they can start appreciating it earlier. I think adults understand that. We know that history is important and you shouldn’t lose it.”

She said one of the challenges in getting kids interested in their local history is making it relevant to them. Some of that can be done by making the learning process fun.

“Sometimes kids just like the attention, so if you can make it very interactive and they’re with someone one-on-one, they’ll be all about it,” she said. “I look forward to the day when we can start providing these experiences.”

The days have flown so far that Fouts and her team are getting started with the many changes coming to the Historical Society. Her enthusiasm for that work is evident. She has found her place.

To paraphrase Indiana Jones, she belongs in a museum.

The Cass County Historical Society is located at 421 E. Broadway. Jerolaman-Long Home is located at 1004 E. Market.

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