Fouts brings enthusiasm, big ideas to Historical Society

Nov. 24—New executive director Heather Fouts is excited about the possibilities the Cass County Historical Society holds.

She saw potential in every nook and cranny. Offices on the second floor, a reading and study room, murals on the walls, storage space in the fire proof safe boxes within the old vault, an open staircase.

But before any of that can happen, some basic construction must take place.

"Buildings that are going to be used for library and museum purposes have a different weight load code that they have to meet," she said. "This building does not meet that."

Work began Monday morning, Nov. 21, to fix the issue.

"Once the problem is fixed we can move ahead with the remodel and setting up exhibits and everything that was planned from before," Fouts said. "Until that one problem is fixed we can't move ahead."

Everything has been a whirl since Fouts took the position in late October. Of late the Historical Society has been busy moving books from their library location on 11th street and moving them to the main building on Broadway. The 11th Street house will be sold.

The Jerolaman-Long Home will also see a future remodel. Many of its artifacts will move to the main building and the Jerolaman-Long Home will focus more as an early Cass County home life and architectural museum.

"Right now there is a lot of going through boxes from the (11th Street) building and there are so many books," she said. "So many pictures. So many scrolls. Some of these books are from the 1800s. They are old. We have civil war journals. It's cool stuff. It doesn't look cool back there on the table but once we get a neat little area for it and we can advertise what we have I think people are going to come and see it."

Fouts was working in banking in Kokomo when she decided to take college classes. Her advisor asked her what she wanted to be.

"I said either Indiana Jones or an art teacher," she said.

She commuted from Kokomo to Indiana University Bloomington twice a week while working on her degree.

Before coming to the Cass County Historical Society she worked at the Howard County Historical Society and in the Seiberling Mansion.

Fouts said she loves storytelling and the potential that history museums have to tell a community their personal story.

"I don't think people start to realize the importance of their community's history until they get older,' she said. "So it would be nice to create an experience that brings in younger people so they can start appreciating it earlier. I think adults get it. We know that that story is important and you shouldn't lose it."

She said one of the challenges of getting kids interested in their local history is making it relevant to them. Some of that can be done by making the learning process fun.

"Sometimes kids just like the attention, so if you can make it very interactive and they are with somebody one on one they are going to be all about it," she said. "I look forward to the day when we can start provided those experiences."

The days have flown by so far as Fouts and her team get to work on the many changes coming to the Historical Society. Her enthusiasm for that work is apparent. She's found her place.

To paraphrase Indiana Jones, she belongs in a museum.

The Cass County Historical Society is located at 421 E. Broadway. The Jerolaman-Long Home is located at 1004 E. Market.