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Donated former church will add to Euless group's historical mission

EULESS -- Though the town itself is less than 60 years old, its residents cherish a history that includes a nameless settlement that sprang up near Bird's Fort more than a century before Euless incorporated.

Three buildings in Heritage Park -- Fuller House, Himes Log House and McCormick Barn -- have been crammed with artifacts loaned or donated by folks with a passion for passing on that history.

This fall, Euless will gain a museum.

The city recently donated the Ruth Millican Center, which sits next to the park, to the 35-member Euless Historical Preservation Committee. When the yet-to-be-named museum opens about mid-September, the 6,300-square-foot former church on Cullum Drive will be a well-equipped addition to that educational mission, committee Chairman Bill Golden said.

"We're always interested in it being a teaching museum for the younger generations," he said.

Once a year, Euless third-graders take field trips to Heritage Park, walking through the 1850s-era cabin, the barn built with lumber salvaged from Camp Bowie and the house built in 1932, the first brick home in Euless, Golden said.

The three buildings are crowded with artifacts from all eras of the city's history, said Parks and Recreation Director Mike Davenport. The Millican Center's addition not only allows the preservation committee to display more artifacts but also lets it move exhibits out of the Fuller House that aren't part of its era.

"They wanted the Fuller House to look like it would have in the 1930s," Davenport said. "It was built in 1932, saved from the bulldozer in 1994 and opened as a museum in 1998."

Organizers plan something big for the new museum's grand opening, Golden said.

"The plans aren't confirmed yet," he said.

Till then, a subcommittee of about a dozen preservationists is hustling to finish displays and shelves for hundreds of items.

Some special exhibits are being designed and built -- like a back porch attached to the room where old kitchen appliances are displayed.

The committee members are energized by the support they've received, spokeswoman Helen Voss said.

"We never had so much community support as we've had with this move," she said. "The city gave us the building and the community has come forward with artifacts."

Voss said the museum's military room needs one Navy uniform and one Marine uniform to fully represent the U.S. armed services. And the school room, where furnishings show the evolution of education, could use a blackboard, she said.

The rooms open into a large space that still has the vaulted ceiling of a sanctuary.

The past is everywhere: a wooden ironing board and more than half a dozen flatirons, a black Underwood typewriter, a Carpenter & Coleman pump organ. Voss said that most artifacts came from the Euless area, but that wasn't requisite for their inclusion.

On one wall are the implements of such trades as blacksmith, carpenter and merchant. A table is laden with rusty lanterns.

A pair of ornate signs read 1889 King Iron Bridges Co. Cleveland. They were removed from a bridge that committee member Gary Parker said originally carried Farm Road 157 over the Trinity River, then was moved to span Bear Creek on North Main Street, then moved again to create a footbridge behind South Euless Elementary.

"All the little kids walking across it now have no idea of its history," Parker said.

But many of them may learn, because some people in Euless are determined to give them the chance.

Terry Evans, 817-390-7620

Twitter: @fwstevans

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