Buckley Foothills Historical Museum back in action

Half a year after an out-of-control car careened into the Buckley Foothills Museum, the museum has reopened and is ready to receive visitors.

The damage inside the museum after the car hit the load-bearing wall. Photo courtesy of the Buckley Foothills Museum.

Half a year after an out-of-control car careened into the Buckley Foothills Museum, the museum has reopened and is ready to receive visitors.

On June 18, witnesses saw a car speed through several stop signs and lose control around the 100 block of North River Avenue before crashing into the museum.

While the car didn’t end up inside the museum, the crash caused more than $52,000 in damage to the building, said Jean Contreras, the secretary of the Foothills Historical Society that runs the building.

The repairs were so costly because the wall the car crashed into was a load-bearing wall, and it was clear that without immediate repairs, the second floor of the museum would most likely have fallen in, Contreras said.

Luckily for the museum, the building is owned by the city of Buckley, and the damage was covered by the city’s insurance,. Construction was done on the building in September.

But the antiques that were damaged in the crash weren’t covered by insurance, and putting the inside of the museum back together took several months more.

The museum estimates the value of the items that were damaged, destroyed or missing at around $3,000.

“But it’s not a matter of money. There’s an investment here, not just in artifacts,” Contreras said. “There’s an investment of work (that) people put into building this place, not the building but to build a museum. How do you quantify that?”

The Buckley community helped the museum recover much of the money it needed to help start replacing display cases and artifacts where possible. More than $2,000 was raised in a Go Fund Me account, and the rest of the money was made through individual donations.

“People were very generous to us,” Contreras said.

Another $2,000 was granted to the museum for repairs and replacements by the Greater Tacoma Development Foundation.

But while some items were able to be refurnished, others were one-of-a-kind, and finding a replacement for them may be impossible.

One of the items destroyed was a 100 year-old brass lamp from a Pythian Sisters lodge.

Missing from the crash scene was an authentic 1920s park services campaign hat, which sat on the head of an antique mannequin, who used to wear the rest of the uniform before it was also shattered in the crash.


The museum is open from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, as well as 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

On display at the museum are several snapshots of life in the 30s, 40s and 50s, including what a kitchen, doctor’s office, barbershop, child’s bedroom, schoolroom, beauty shop, department store and newsroom may have looked like in that time period.

The museum has also amassed a collection of war memorabilia from both World Wars, as well as mining, logging and harvesting tools and historical children’s toys.

Some of its more impressive items include Buckley’s first fire truck, used in 1905, as well as an 1800s surrey that used to belong to the family of one of the museum’s members.

The aftermath of the car after it hit the building. Courtesy photo.

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