McCleary Museum.  A year ago, this tiny museum that was all but ignored, was packing up and moving to who knew where. We were asked to leave our home of 35 years and the active members numbered anywhere from 3 to 5, worked frantically to move to a temporary location. Luckily, a friend of the museum had enough storage space and let us use it, rent-free!  Another friend told me “Sometimes a storm comes, not to destroy, but to clear a path.” We hung onto that. We, as a Society, did not know if we were going to have to dissolve or if we could survive. A town meeting was held and a surprising number of people showed up to give their support. Many stepped up to the plate and became very active. Our accomplishments in the last 12 months are many. The first big accomplishment hurdle we overcame was knowing the people of McCleary supported us. We then purchased the Methodist Church building that had been offered to us the year before, which at the time was out of the question. Now it was our salvation. We are still raising funds to pay for the building, but we know we have the support of our community.

The new facility will be known as the McCleary Museum and Heritage Center. We are striving to open by December and continue with the Christmas Eve service that has been a Methodist Church tradition for a long time. Some displays have been set up – many more are in the works. The moonshine still was among the first to be completed. We have a lot of interest in that piece of history.

We will house a Visitors’ Center to be open on the weekends. We will have a gift shop full of local talent. The chapel will be used as an event center to hold weddings, memorial services, family gatherings and the like. The possibilities are limitless.

Besides looking for grants we are holding fundraising events almost monthly.  In September we sold Krispy Kreme donuts for $10.00 a dozen. Don’t worry – we plan to do that every few months. Just watch our Facebook page and you’ll see when the next one is coming.

In October we are selling cookbooks created from the contributions of the citizens of the area. Some of the recipes are from the 1998 cookbook that the Society published, others are current contributions. We are taking orders for this book that contains over 650 recipes. It is also filled with pictures from the not so distant past – and pictures of our current Bear Festival Royalty. Because the Bear Festival had to be cancelled, the royalty will be held over for a year. Recipes for moonshine and bear stew are included. The price is $25.00 for the loose-leaf book. You can order in one of three ways – call Linda at 360 495-4569, email the museum at or use the Postal Service. Our address is PO Box 554, McCleary WA 98557. Payment is due when you pick up the books.

With the support of the community we have done some major repairs that were strongly suggested by the City of McCleary’s building inspector. The chimney had to be earthquake proofed. That was in grave danger of losing bricks. It had been shaken completely loose by the Nisqually quake. The old building, built in 1926, had knob and tube wiring. No insurance company would insure us until that was updated. The front office windows had wood rot and needed to be completely replaced. Volunteers came in right away and repainted the main hall to a neutral color. The sign out front was changed from THE METHODIST CHURCH to THE McCLEARY MUSEUM AND HERITAGE CENTER and paid for by a member.

We had to buy additional fire extinguishers and exit signs. We will all be getting safety training on the proper use of fire extinguishers.

We now have a strong volunteer base, but we are always looking for more talent. Currently we have the old Summit School House – later Grange Hall – model that needs restoration. If you are handy working with wood and/or models, call Charles at 541 660-3633 and he will put you to work. He has been the museum’s curator and researcher for 35 years. You won’t find a more knowledgeable person on the history of McCleary.

We hope you will watch for more articles here in the Senior Sunset Times and come visit us when we are able to open again.

If you're looking for a place to stretch your legs and spark your imagination, come visit us at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center and view our current exhibition, Undersea Garden: A Voyage of Wonder & Imagination.


The exhibiting artwork has been praised for it's beautiful craftsmanship and thoughtful attention to detail and sparks wonder amongst visitors of every age. Children five and up have delighted in the plethora of sea creatures on display—ones that they recognize seeing along the shores of the Salish Sea and at the Feiro Marine Life Center. Adults have responded to the exhibition with jovial enthusiasm, seeming to bring back precious memories of days spent by the sea. Whatever your age or your connection to our local waters, we hope you will visit us in person or online and take a voyage through the Undersea Garden.


Face masks and social distancing are mandatory and we are welcoming 10 people at a time in the gallery.