The Harbor View Historical Society, which began a soft opening of its museum in the former Harbor View Missionary Baptist Church at 2083 Autokee St. in Oregon, is getting closer to having its campus completed.
Last week, U.S. Navy Seabees volunteered their time to raze a nearby home purchased by the historical society. The new land will join the former church property to create a one-and-a-half acre campus, said the society’s program manager, 30-year Navy veteran and Chief Warrant Officer Michael Joseph.
The society purchased the adjoining house and property through the Lucas County Land Reutilization Corporation (or land bank), a community improvement corporation designed to strengthen neighborhoods by returning vacant and abandoned properties to productive use.
The purchase and renovation of this new adjoining property is the second phase of the historical society’s development of its campus.
“Initially, in December 2010, the Harbor View Historical Society presented to the planning commission of Oregon that that was going to be a park and it also was necessary as part of the entire project. After last week, we now own that property,” Joseph said.
“Now, we have the entire footprint. The entire campus is acquired and we are able to start running ahead after we’ve been telling people what we are going to do and what it’s going to look like in the long run,” Joseph continued.
“The new property is a swale area to collect the water from the footprint of the museum. We needed that for zoning and regulation, so it’s going to be a park.”
Joseph said the park will be given a name which has a historical significance from an event that took place there in July 1947, but the historical society must get permission from the family before releasing the name. Once the property is done and the name finalized, a dedication ceremony will be held.
Joseph wants those involved with the Oregon-Jerusalem Historical Society to know that the Harbor View society is there to be supportive of their activities as well.
“We are not replacing the Oregon-Jerusalem Historical Society,” Joseph said. “We support that organization. We are a different training opportunity for students and we are still making contact with the University of Toledo. We’ve got a soft contact with the university to have their history students come down and do an internship with us, and that’s different than the Oregon-Jerusalem Historical Society. We are going to be more about education, which was the original statement from way back.
“That’s part of the museum. A lot of our people are with the boy scouts and with the United States Navy, and I am an assistant clinical professor at the University of Toledo. It’s always been about education and training and we’re happy that the Navy came out and gave us a hand.”
Joseph added that the Harbor View society plans to model its organization after the Koshare Indian Museum, which was created by Boy Scouts of America in La Junta, Colorado in 1933.
“If someone wanted to see what the original plan we had from five or six years ago is going to look like and how it’s going to operate, we have a template that I can honestly tell everybody now that we have developed,” Joseph said. “If you look at their website (KoshareHistory.org) and how they were created, we are following line by line that project.
“It was a boy scout troop, just like the boy scouts are involved in the Harbor View Historical Society. We are going to have an explorer post here. They (Koshare) are now linked with the university there and have been for around 40 years,” Joseph continued.
“If something wanted to find out, ‘Well, what is the (Harbor View) end product going to be?’ That is how we are operating — it will be a place where students from the university can come and study, kids (scouts) can spend the night if they are traveling across America, and they can put a sleeping bag on the floor and get up the next morning and leave. That’s the whole thing about the Koshare Indian Museum and how we will fund ourselves.”
Officials with the Harbor View society last year announced the appointment of Samuel J. Bonifas as its first president. Bonifas was selected in part due to his experience managing historical and genealogical societies throughout Ohio, says Joseph.
Boniface has memberships in the Ohio Genealogical Society and he has served as president and vice president of the Allen County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society. Bonifas is also a member of the Delphos Miami Erie Canal Commission.
In addition, a charitable organization called The Last Patrol will have an office adjoining the historical society’s museum. John Nowakowski, who heads the charity, has been working for 10 years to bring a Navy ship to Toledo that will be docked permanently.
“He is going to bring a ship to Toledo for the United States Navy Sea Cadets. Right now, they’ve been looking at multiple different ships. They’ll use it as a museum and also as a training platform,” Joseph said. “This is a developing story in the City of Oregon that’s getting bigger and wider.”
Those interested in helping out may contact Bonifas at 419-236-6924.