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Morning Sun
  • House move starts miners village

  • The Miners Hall Museum, Franklin, is filled with artifacts related to the region’s rich mining heritage, and now a village is shaping up in the gravel lot behind the building.

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  • The Miners Hall Museum, Franklin, is filled with artifacts related to the region’s rich mining heritage, and now a village is shaping up in the gravel lot behind the building.
    Earlier this month a miner house was moved from Frontenac to the lot behind the museum. On Saturday Doyle Patton of Patton House and Building Movers, Paola, returned to lower the house onto the cinder block foundation built by John Nepote and Ray Hamblin.
    “She can sleep easy now,” said Veda Maxwell, who coordinated securing the house for Franklin. “Nobody’s going to move her again.”
    The modern siding, windows and doors will be removed and replaced with wood siding more appropriate to its time period.
    “We’ll do the exterior first, then the interior later on,” Maxwell said. “We’d love to have it done in time for the Smithsonian exhibit in May, but that depends on donations.”
    She’s also looking for another miners house, specifically one built in the four-room square design.
    After lowering the house, Patton and his Bobcat performed another chore,  moving a metal storage shed from the back of the museum to the gravel area. Donated in memory of Dick Webb, the shed has been painted to resemble a rural post office by Gary Lofts, Northeast High School art teacher.
    One more item was added Saturday to the outdoor exhibit, and that was a sign designating the area as Memory Lane. Not by coincidence, this is similar to the e-mail address of Phyllis Bitner, Arma.
    “Ever since the 2003 tornado Phyllis has been a guardian angel for the re-building of Franklin, and now she has been a major role player for the Miners Hall Museum,” Maxwell said.
    She said that she first met Bitner after the tornado.
    “At that time I was the bookkeeper for the water district, and she came knocking on my door for a list of all the water customers’ names and street addresses for the tornado command center and the Red Cross,” Maxwell said. “Ever since that day, along with others, we have worked together on re-building Franklin. Phyllis never stops working. She’s on one project and then she’s off and running on to the next one...she’s truly an Energizer bunny.”
    Maxwell  said that she has wanted to see Bitner honored, and finally came up with the idea of giving the name of Memory Lane to the outdoor exhibit. She secretly contacted members of the Miners Hall Museum Board and they voted to approve the idea.
    “This museum, everything that’s happened in the last two years, would not have happened without Phyllis,” said Linda Grilz, board president.
    Since it would be inappropriate to use a modern metal street sign, Maxwell asked friend Joe Morie to construct a 1920s style sign from an old wooden post and barn boards, with “Memory Lane” hand-painted on it.
    Page 2 of 2 - The sign was a complete surprise to Bitner.
    “You sneaky people,” she said. “You could be the FBI or CIA or some covert action unit.”
    She admitted she had been thinking that the miners village needed a name and sign.
    “If  you’d had my name some place I would be embarrassed and want it taken down,” Bitner added. “This way, nobody will associate ‘Memory Lane’ with me, but I’ll know it.”
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