Oregon State Federation of Garden Clubs Historic Preservation Award Sou'Wester Garden Club Seaside Oregon
Click here to visit our Online Historic Photo Archive !

Hours:

Mon-Sat
10 - 3
Seaside Museum & Historical Society & Butterfield Cottage | Seaside, Oregon

What's New:

Home Page

Email Seaside Museum
Contact SMHS
Secure Online Donation  to  SMHS

About SMHS

Museum Tour

Butterfield Cottage

Like Seaside Museum on Facebook

Historic Gardens

Annual Events

Online Newsletters

Museum Membership

Seaside History

Links

Gift Shop

Searchable Photos

Contributors

media & press releases

 


In the News

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Longtime resident leaves nearly $174,000 to Seaside Museum

By Laurel Eddy
The Daily Astorian, leddy@dailyastorian.com

SEASIDE — A recent donation of $173,944 will go a long way for the Seaside Museum and Historical Society, said its curator Mark Tolonen.

The organization’s normal annual budget is about $93,000.

“We do a tremendous amount on a shoestring,” Tolonen said. “Our volunteers are so generous. Some of our volunteers come in 40 hours a week and work for free.”

The museum, at 570 Necanicum Drive, features an exhibit of a Lewis and Clark salt-making camp, the next-door Butterfield Cottage, a chronological exhibit from 2000 B.C. to World War II, and a diorama of Seaside with a tape recording of the town’s history.


Mark Tolonen, great-nephew of Elsie Olson and curator of the Seaside Museum, examines a “traveling exhibit” teachers can borrow to show to their classes.
Charles Emery "Chuck" Olson
Submitted photo
Charles Emery Olson, above, and Elsie Tolonen Olson were long-time residents of Clatsop County and helped to establish the Seaside Museum in 1974.

Tolonen said the museum provides help for researchers, a nostalgic experience for long-time residents and an attraction for tourists. “I think a lot of the visitors enjoy the exhibits as informal learning,” he said.

The donation came from the estate of Elsie Tolonen Olson, who died at the age of 94 in May. She and her husband, Chuck Olson, were good friends of the museum’s founder, Clarence Sigurdson, and helped to plan the museum.

“It was somewhat of a surprise,” said Tolonen, Elsie Olson’s great-nephew. Olson also made donations to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, the Casey Eye Institute and Meals on Wheels, Tolonen said.

Tolonen recalls his great-aunt as a humorous, frugal lady who remembered people from their time in her first-grade class at Gearhart Elementary. “She’d say, ‘Oh, there’s little Jimmy so and so...’ and he’s somebody older than me,” Tolonen laughed.

Tolonen recalls his great-aunt as a humorous, frugal lady who remembered people from their time in her first-grade class at Gearhart Elementary. “She’d say, ‘Oh, there’s little Jimmy so and so...’ and he’s somebody older than me,” Tolonen laughed.

Elsie Tolonen Olson’s estate has donated nearly $174,000 to the museum.

The museum’s board of directors is considering investing $160,000 to provide a yearly return in interest, Tolonen said. He is hoping for a 10-percent return, or $16,000, each year. Michael Foster has volunteered to be the fund manager.

The remaining $14,000 could go toward several projects, including improving the gravel parking lot, Tolonen said.

Elsie Amelia Olson
Submitted photo

Tolonen manages the office, finances, research projects, newsletter, and Web site and organizes the artifact collections, all in 20 hours a week. He hopes the donation will allow another staff person or provide funding for him to work full time.

“Currently I wear all the hats,” he said. Tolonen’s goals include new exhibits and putting 7,000 photos on the museum’s Web site.

Work continues on the 800-square-foot expansion, which will provide more storage. Tongue Point Job Corps students built the new room, and interior work continues.

“ You know those Chinese puzzles where you’ve only got one open spot and you move it around?” he said. “That’s what we’ve got. We’re full.” Tolonen plans to catalogue the contents of every box while shifting the storage around once the new room is ready.

Tolonen is willing to supply several portable exhibits to the public, including a hand-cranked video arcade game that allows the viewer to watch two boxers fighting. Museum volunteers have participated in the Saltmakers Return event in July and August, helped with a Seaside Aquarium summer kids program and greeted tourists at Fort Clatsop.

The museum is funded by membership fees from 300 members, donations, admission fees and grants. Tolonen hopes donations will allow the board to invest more and provide a more stable budget.