Despite no A/C, Kapaun site to expand hours

Staff writer

Despite the lack of air conditioning, a handful of dedicated volunteers at the Father Kapaun Museum is going to dedicate their time to open the museum on a regular basis to serve the high volume of people trekking down the rural roads to Pilsen.

Since Father Emil Kapaun received the Congressional Medal of Honor last year, attendance at the museum has nearly tripled, volunteer Rosemary Neuwirth said.

“It’s been wild,” she said. “We’ve had eight tours since last Friday and since it’s summer attendance keeps picking up.”

Currently the museum is only open by appointment, but with attendance booming, Neuwirth and other volunteers feel there needs to be set days when the museum is open to the public.

“It’s something we’ve talked about doing for awhile,” volunteer Carole Sklenar said. “I’ve done five tours in four days and shown the museum to 25 or 30 people this week.”

While many people call to set up an appointment to view the museum, there are always those that don’t, Sklenar said.

“People will drop in. We had one guy who heard about us from an article in the New York Times and was traveling to Colorado and decided to stop,” Sklenar said. “Some people sign the church guest book, which is how we know they stopped, but many don’t and we don’t know because we’re not there.”

Neuwirth said on Kapaun Day the museum was inundated with people after a ceremony with standing room only at St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church. So far this summer visitors have traveled from all across the country and even from Rome to see the museum.

The hope is to also help the volunteers plan and organize their time, rather than receiving random calls during the day to open the museum.

“Many of us are stay at home farm wives and during the summer it gets very busy with harvest,” Neuwirth said.

She said likely the volunteers will meet after harvest concludes to work out a schedule.

“We’re busiest on weekends so it’ll probably be mostly weekends when we’re open, and after church,” Neuwirth said.

They also are hoping that money can be raised in the Kapaun Legacy Fund to help purchase an air conditioner for the museum.

“It can get very warm to say the least,” Neuwirth said. “No one wants to sit in that so we’ll have to figure that out.”

With the double chipping of Remington Rd., Neuwirth said she has been instructing people to travel that route to Pilsen, instead of detouring through Durham.

“People have said the road is really nice, and now we can tell people to stop in Marion or Hillsboro for lunch or gas,” she said.

 

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