It took 20 years, but the Galloway Township Historical Society finally has a home.
On May 11, the society celebrated the grand opening of its museum in the former U.S. Postal Service building in front of the Galloway Municipal Complex off Jimmie Leeds Road.
Getting a space for the group to call its own, society President Robert Reid said, was a matter of tenacity.
"It just took years of not giving up," said Reid, of Absecon.
The historical society has little in the way of finances, so purchasing its own building was out of the question.
The group spent much of its history meeting in the shared multi-purpose room of the Municipal Complex, keeping most of its artifacts at Reid's and other members' houses. When the township realized it needed the room to use as office space late last year, the historical society faced a crisis.
About the same time, the township's Postal Service branch was shuttered. Reid reached out to the township council to request the space for his group's use - and his request was quickly granted.
The post office was vacated in January, and by March, historical society members had begun spending long hours in the museum tearing up carpeting and repainting to get it ready for their use.
The most of the work was done by a core group of society members, including Reid, secretary Steve Fiedler, treasurer James R. Leopardi, historian Ken Sooy, curator John Seyler and librarian Sarah Snow.
Several community members were generous in donating or lending their items for the society's use. James Davidson and Felix Amador, of Absecon, lent Civil War-era artifacts and helped the society organize its exhibits. Davidson said he was impressed with the finished product.
"For the short amount of time we've had to prepare, I think they've done a tremendous job," he said.
The May 11 opening ceremony included a musical performance by The Knotty Pines and brief remarks by Deputy Mayor Tony Coppola, Jr. and Mayor Don Purdy. Following a ribbon-cutting, the public was invited to browse the society's collection.
Among the more popular pieces on display were detailed fire insurance maps of 1920s Atlantic City and century-old photographs of Galloway and other areas.
Purdy, who was born and raised in Galloway, browsed the collection with his mother, Rita, and his sister, Lisa Blase. Purdy, who said he has tried to learn as much as he can about the town's history since he was appointed mayor in 2011 said he was glad to help the historical society find a permanent place for its collection.
"There's so much history," Purdy said. "I think we owed it to the residents of Galloway to let them know what made this town so great."
Despite a significant early morning downpour, many turned out to celebrate the museum's grand opening and peruse its exhibits.
Now that it has a space of its own, the historical society hopes to bring in new members and donations to ensure it fulfills its mission of informing the community of its history. So far, Davidson said, so good.
"This brings a sense of community. It gets people talking to one another," Davidson said. "You couldn't ask for more."
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