Media Room

Coos History Museum Grand Opening

It’s my great pleasure to celebrate with you the opening of the Coos History Museum. 

It warms my heart to know the effort that led to this day wasn’t a singular journey, but the  collaborative efforts of so many people at the local and state levels.
This project brought the local fishing community together with the forestry industry and the Coquille Tribe, an alliance  that would have seemed unlikely not that long ago.
Business Oregon’s New Markets tax credit program also played a role in bringing this day about. 

Martha Butler is a big reason we are all here today, too. Her initial donation - back in 1999 – got this museum off the ground. The gift was in the form of 880-thousand-dollars of Tootsie Roll stock. Thanks to Martha, you can truthfully say this museum kind of grew out of a Tootsie Roll wrapper!

As a testament to the strength of this community, her donation was an inspiration to others, with  more than 550 families contributing to  funding the Museum.  

Of course, your tireless advocates - Senator Arnie Roblan and Representative Caddy Mckeown - kept the drum beat alive over the years leading up to today’s grand opening. 
By working together, you created a treasure of a museum that will be enjoyed for generations to come. And walking the halls, you can see the spirit of collaboration in the very construction of it. 

Five benches dot the lobby and exhibit halls. The tops of four of them are myrtle wood, found only in Oregon. The fifth one is made of black walnut. The walnut came all the way from West Virginia in 1908, thanks to a magazine. The grandmother of the person who donated the wood came to Coos Bay to marry her husband. They met through a personal ad in Ladies Home Journal – apparently the match-dot-com of its day.

They met through a personal ad in Ladies Home Journal - apparently the match-dot-com of its day. 

The slab tops of the benches were planed and finished by members of Tom Hull's Marshfield High School shop program, who also made the cold-rolled steel frames underneath.

The plank walls of the “Welcoming Gallery" were taken from Coquille tribal lands. The timber was split and finished by Don Ivy – who, as you know, was just elected Tribal Chief. He didn’t do the work by himself, members of the CIT Youth Corps helped out.

The long walls are Port Orford cedar, and western red cedar runs along the short walls. The room is meant to evoke a sense of place that many of us may find familiar - the ubiquitous coastal plank house.

The stair treads in the main exhibit hall are reclaimed from a Georgia-Pacific dock. This means you can walk on the same wood that so many of this region’s exports crossed before heading across the world. 

Among the artifacts still to be installed on the site is the 23-thousand-pound brass propeller from the New Carissa. Her stern was a very visible part of this community for nearly a decade. It makes sense to memorialize the ship’s demise to the Coos Bay bar, reminding us that - for this community - there is no challenge too big to overcome.

Now, your dedication and commitment to working together to showcase the history of Coos County is on full display for visitors and local residents to experience for generations to come. Congratulations on this wonderful achievement and contribution to the region and the state.

Please join me in recognizing what this community has done to make today a reality.