Fremont County Historical Society
The FCHS was reorganized about 4 years ago to try to reestablish an organization in the county since the former FCHS organization had folded up about ten years ago.
The previous organization had a small museum in St. Anthony but then lost its lease when the building they were using was sold and moved. The artifact and archival collection had been placed in storage for the past ten years, on which the Fremont County Commissioners were paying the bill on the dusty storage unit.
A year ago negotiations were underway with the City of Ashton for the use of the old City Building as a combined Archive and Museum, but the City Council took a pass at the time.
When Hersh Lenz passed away, owner of Lenz’s Electronics on Main Street in Ashton. His building became available. Tom Howell and his family had formed a 501(C3) non-profit, and approached Hersh’s daughter Deanna and her husband about the purchase of the building for the use as a museum. A deal was struck with the Lenz heir. They donated a significant portion of the value of the building, and the Howell’s offered it to the FCHS to be used as the future museum.
Since that time grants have been pursued to help with the remodeling and upkeep of the building. Great support has been received from the Richard Vasak Trust, CHC Foundation, Valley Wide Cooperative, Land of Lakes Foundation, Bank of Idaho, and the donation of some money and a showcase from Fall River Electric.
Once the building was secured, the group approached the Fremont County Commissioners about acquiring the former collection being held in storage. The Commissioners were more than happy to stop paying storage after all these years, and agreed to contribute an annual sum towards the operation of the building.
Current exhibits include a tribute to the American Dog Derby, a large native American artifact collection, a very interesting railroad collection, a fur and skull display by Jared Baum, and a display from the Ashton Seed Growers Association.
Current Board of Directors are Tom Howell, Bernetta Hansen, and Judy Smith. Plans are to be open for the Fourth of July. No admission will be charged, but a free-will donation is encouraged. Other local volunteers have been helpful with the openings and loaning different items for display.
Future plans are to have talks with the City about the eventual combining of the Archive and the Museum which is common in any other community. The Ashton Archive has been collecting small artifacts during this time and the FCHS took over a bunch of archival material from the previous county collection.