The Nevada Historical Society board wishes to invite all residents of the community and surrounding area to an open house at Evergreen Lane this Sunday, June 24.
It is very important to this group that Nevada residents take this invitation to heart and try to attend. Continuing to preserve Nevada’s history takes the support and interest of the public.
The Nevada Historical Society board is providing the enticement of refreshments and live music, but their hope is that even if you come for the treats, you will walk away with a greater appreciation for what the history of this community is all about.
“It’s so important that people know how their town started and what it took to make the town what it is for the people who live in it today,” said NHS vice president Jenny Helland, who just happens to be a retired elementary teacher. In fact, there are several retired teachers on the historical society board, who know the value of learning more every day. And that’s really what the historical society is about — teaching and preserving the lessons of the past for the generations of today and the future.
If you’ve never been to Evergreen Lane, also known as Briggs Terrace, then you probably haven’t had a tour given by NHS board president Maxine Harms or NHS member Kris Corbin. In fact, one of Corbin’s favorite stories on the tour actually goes against his own beliefs. Corbin believes the property very well might be haunted.
“I don’t believe in ghosts, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some strange things that happen here,” he said.
Corbin, who lives across the street from the property, is one of the main caretakers and is often seen mowing. He was mowing one day there when he saw a tall, slender man dressed in bibs and wearing a Fedora hat smoking a pipe near the house. He kept mowing, but then thought maybe the guy had a question and he should make his way up there and see what he needed.
He got up to the house, but couldn’t find the guy, he tells. “But I still smelled the pipe’s smoke.” So he looked around the house several times, and then decided the guy must have gone somewhere, so he returned to his mowing.
It bothered him, though, because he couldn’t believe a guy would just disappear that fast off the big, open property. The next night, he was talking with Margaret Nady, who grew up on the property, and she and her mother donated it to the city. “I asked her whether there was ever anyone in the family who smoked a pipe. She answered that there wasn’t.” But then, she said, “We did have a guy who worked for my dad for awhile.” She described him as an interesting person, tall and slender, and he always wore a Fedora hat and bibs. Corbin couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
Then, to top it off, he was giving a tour at night once, a full tour — which some like where they can go into the attic and into the basement, which isn’t easy to get to and are only included by special request. “I remembered I needed to turn the water on in the basement, and when I put my hand upon the sill, I felt something. It was a pipe and tobacco bag that were there by the coal shoot.” This all happened not long after he saw that guy, he said, and he had never seen a pipe or bag in that house before.
This is one of the many stories — not all as “paranormalish” as this — that folks can hear when they take a tour.
Harms, one of the board’s retired teachers, often does the tours for kids. She said the thing that most of them get a little creeped out by is when she talks about a picture on the wall of the main room. “They don’t like that its made with human hair.” But Harms explains that this was a Victorian-era tradition, to clip a person’s hair and braid it into beautifully detailed art, sometimes with flowers, that would be framed and kept long after the people were gone.
NHS board member Rhonda Melton, who has been instrumental in preparing for the upcoming open house, said her big draw to being involved with the Nevada Historical Society is that she was born and raised here and her dad, Max Whitaker, actually attended Halley Schoolhouse, which is another historic building on the Briggs Terrace property. “He’s even come out and helped do some tours.” Whitaker’s ability to tell people what it was like when he attended, along with Harms’ researched ability to tell about the school’s earliest days, help take visitors through most of the life of the schoolhouse.
NHS board member Deb Locker said she wants to be sure Nevada residents understand that the historical properties in Nevada belong to everyone. “It’s great for people to come and look at the properties to see what we have to offer.”
People may not realize that the properties — which include Briggs Terrace/Evergreen Lane and the Dyer Dowell House, along with a History Center in the downtown area — can be rented out for weddings and other occasions that they might suit. In fact, NHS has had great working cooperation with both Gatherings and the Queen Anne Bed & Breakfast on some events.
Corbin said it takes about $1,200 to $1,300 a month to keep the lights on at the properties and that, of course, doesn’t cover unexpected damages from weather events or vandalism that might need tending to. One way the NHS raises money is by people doing yearly memberships, which are $15 a year for an individual and $25 a year for a couple or family. They also have business memberships that are either $50 or $100 a year and come with the bonus of ads placed in the NHS newsletter.
NHS board member Cindy Grismore reminds that donations can also be made in-kind through services rendered, or people can simply leave a donation of any amount for NHS at an event or when the properties are open for tours during the summer. Speaking of tours, Evergreen Lane can be toured every Sunday, from 2-4 p.m. It’s a great thing to do if you have visiting relatives or children who have never been to the property. The History Center is open the second and fourth Saturdays of every month, from 9 a.m.-noon, to view displays of Nevada’s history.
Also coming up this summer are some Stories in the Schoolhouse events for children of all ages. Those are held the first and third Sunday afternoons, beginning at 2:30 p.m. They will continue through July and August.
The properties will be open during Lincoln Highway Days — the last full weekend of August. And, in September, NHS will hold its annual tractor ride.
NHS has both a website and a Facebook page to find out more information about the organization, but start by letting the NHS board greet you this Sunday, June 24, at its open house. You can tour the property or simply pull up a lawn chair by the porch and listen to live music.