BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — The Jack W. Hiles Maumee Memorabilia Museum holds the stories of thousands of Maumee residents over a span of many decades.
Filling the old home on River Road are countless books, postcards, photographs, plaques, uniforms and more. Every room – even the bathroom – contains pieces of Maumee history.
Many of the items were donated from the personal collection of the late Jack Hiles, a lifelong Maumee resident who had long wanted to share the history of Maumee with the residents of the city.
While the city of Maumee owns the building, many volunteers work together to keep the pieces organized, meeting every Wednesday between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m.
“Jack had a really great group of volunteers. They’re all wonderful and I don’t know what we would do without them,” said Char Nesper, Jack’s sister and a fellow volunteer.
Together, she said, the volunteers have been slowly familiarizing themselves with all of the pieces Jack had collected over several decades.
The collections have been grouped together, but the volunteers are still working to organize the space, so they know where each of the items are when visitors arrive at the museum.
“We love to have people come and visit because some of those people can tell us information when they see things. We try to take notes and keep it with the picture they told us about,” Char said.
Walking through the space gives visitors a good way to reminisce, added Denis Logan, a volunteer and Jack’s son-in-law.
He’s had people walk through the door of the museum only to find an old photo of their home or their grandparent’s class photo among the collections.
“We have so many people who come in and take pictures of our stuff to show their families,” he said.
Thousands of the pieces in the museum came from Jack, who began collecting when he was a young boy after his father gave him a State Home Savings change purse, the first piece of his collection, said his daughter Laura Logan.
In order to continue the legacy and spread the stories collected in the museum, volunteers are needed.
“We are usually there working on Wednesdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. If anyone wants to come in and see what we’re doing and volunteer to help, they can. If they love history and they love Maumee, it would be great to have them,” Char said.
If interested volunteers want to set up a time to visit and help with the space, they can do that, too, Char said. She encouraged residents to contact the museum through its Facebook page to schedule a time.
Char added that the volunteers are always willing to schedule a time to meet with someone if they want to drop off items at the museum, too.
The museum receives everything from old yearbooks to photographs and newspapers regularly, Denis added. It’s not unusual, either, for people to want to drop off items from longstanding Maumee businesses.
All of these pieces are a part of Maumee history, Char said, and the museum’s volunteers want to preserve them.
“The city has some pieces here because they know they’re in good hands here,” Denis said. “We take care of a lot of history here.”
While going through the collection, volunteers have found some pieces that don’t belong to Maumee, including Waterville and Perrysburg items. In those cases, they have contacted the local historical societies to return them to their respective towns, Denis added.
“If we have things that do not relate to Maumee at all, then we talk to those with the Wolcott House to see if they have a place for it,” Char said.
As the volunteers become more familiar with the pieces in each collection, they are better able to find items when visitors are looking for them on Saturdays or when groups set up a time to come to the museum.
In order to keep these items in good condition so visitors have the chance to see them for the next several decades, they need to be properly taken care of, Char cautioned.
“Monetary donations help in case we have to take photos in to get enlarged or framed or purchase other supplies to keep items preserved and protected,” Char said. “Monetary donations help us very much.”
Cash donations can be made while visiting the museum, or by mailing a check to the Jack W. Hiles Maumee Memorabilia Museum at 1035 River Rd., making note of the museum, or MMM, on the envelope and the check, Char advised.
It’s a big job, preserving and organizing everything, but the volunteers are very passionate about their work. It also helps them feel close to Jack, Char added.
The Jack W. Hiles Maumee Memorabilia Museum, located at 1035 River Rd., is usually open on Saturdays from noon to 2:00 p.m. For changes in hours and other updates, residents can visit the Maumee Memorabilia Museum’s Facebook page.