CDR John C. Hazlett, Commanding Officer, Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC), Toledo, said that local Navy personnel are working to help create a museum for the City of Oregon and the Harbor View neighborhood.
Commander Hazlett says that on Sunday afternoon approximately a dozen Navy Seabees volunteered to help restore a former church located at 2083 Autokee Street into a museum. The museum will serve not only Harbor View, but the entire Oregon community.
The Harbor View Historical Society and Museum is the former Harbor View Missionary Baptist Church.
The museum project is under the direction of Chief Warrant Officer Michael Joseph, a 30-year Navy veteran and Medical Officer for NOSC Toledo. He practices medicine as a physician’s assistant at the Veterans’ Affairs clinic on Glendale Avenue in Toledo and is a clinical professor at the University of Toledo.
|Approximately a dozen Navy Seabees volunteered to help restore a former church located at 2083 Autokee Street into a museum. (submitted photo)
CWO Joseph said the church closed in 2010. With the support of private donors, The Harbor View Historical Society and Museum took over the church with the goal of creating the museum.
“We started working in February clearing and cleaning up the inside. In March we removed the church bell,” said CWO Joseph. “The Seabees are coming in to help with some of the restoration work.
“Some of the Seabees just completed a tour of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, while other members of their unit are still deployed. I think it says a lot about Seabees that they would volunteer their time to do this project.”
CWO Joseph added that Harbor View along with the City of Oregon have a unique and rich history that needs to be highlighted and preserved for future generations.
“The museum will highlight shipping activities at the mouth of the Maumee River as well as showcasing the five villages that existed before Oregon became a city. They are, Immergrun, Momeneetown, South Shore Park, Ironville, and Harbor View,” he said.
“They were villages that were eaten up by the City of Oregon that were not represented very well, and that’s what gave us the concept of saying, ‘Hey, you know, we could study those little villages and showcase them,” CWO Joseph continued.
Along the south shore of Maumee Bay were from west to east Harbor View, which CWO Joseph says has been existence for at least 100 years, then Immergrun at Wynn and Bayshore roads, and near Maumee Bay State Park is South Shore Park. Ironville was located at the end of Front Street and is named after the heavy industry located there.
“I didn’t realize that they had huge docks in those areas along the waterfront,” CWO Joseph said of Ironville. “They actually had huge docks were part of the whole iron industry.”
The organizers went to Oregon City Council last December to request zoning for the museum, but the idea dates back much further, CWO Joseph said.
“A group of us, professionals and non-professionals, were kidding around about starting a museum in the Harbor View area, and this was the same group that was working with the museum project on the Boyer (museum ship S.S. Willis B. Boyer, now the Col. James M. Schoonmaker),” CWO Joseph said.
“Over the years, we couldn’t get the museum project to move very well on the Boyer, so the group of us, a lot of us Boy Scouts, decided to put it in the Harbor View neighborhood,” he continued. “As the last three years developed, the concept grew and grew and eventually we realized that Oregon had an incredible history from the War of 1812 until now.
CWO Joseph said the museum will not duplicate, but plans to work alongside efforts by the Oregon-Jerusalem Historical Society, which operates the Brandeville School Museum. CWO Joseph said no communication has occurred yet between the two organizations, but he expects that to happen soon.
“We will not be working with the genealogy side,” CWO Joseph said. “Ours will be more for historical presentation and educational opportunities.
He expects Bowling Green State University and the University of Toledo to become involved in educational opportunities and books and other media there to become available to the public much like a library offers materials for short-term loan.
“A lot of us are educators,” CWO Joseph said. “I am actually one of the people out here that came up with the historical concept along with Dr. Gary L. Cashin. Dr. Cashin, a retired professor and educator, is on the museum project as a training tool for students.
“Between coming up with a historical aspect, the museum footprint will also be an educational tool for students from the universities and also local high schools as we start to move along here.
“We actually want students to come in, and on a very small scale, learn how to create displays, gather information for the public to see.
“We’re not getting too excited about collecting the data now because we want the students to do it. Each student will be selected to cover one of the villages,” he stated as an example of a student project.