An electrical upgrade and lighting project at the historic Toggery building in historic downtown Willcox is “coming along great.”
That’s according to Sulphur Springs Valley Historical Society (SSVHS) President Kathy Klump.
“Over 70 support beams were replaced above the ceiling holding up the roof. The old ceiling has been removed, and the new one is up,” said Klump, adding that the walls have been painted and the facility has been wired for antique lights, which were found in the Schwertner’s carriage house.
The historical society received a total of $5,000 in checks from the Northern Cochise Fund and the Cochise Community Foundation toward the project.
The Northern Cochise Fund (NCF) “is a local endowment that exists solely to benefit communities in the Sulphur Springs and San Simon Valleys,” said NCF Advisory Board Chairman Andrew Terry.
“Grants are issued annually to nonprofit organizations that promote youth, leadership, entrepreneurship, and cultural heritage. As such we are extremely pleased to have granted the Sulphur Springs Valley Historical Society funds this past year,” he told the Range News.
“SSVHS is a great cultural asset to our community and we feel that this investment will enable SSVHS to accomplish its mission of preserving the history and heritage of our area.”
Terry explained that the grant was “specifically for electrical improvements to enable them to better protect and preserve irreplaceable artifacts and archives housed at the old Toggery building.”
The renovation project went literally from top to bottom after suggestions were made that it would be “a great time to replace the flooring while all the exhibits are moved out.”
The historical society started a fund to pay for a new floor, determining that it would cost about $2,000. About $600 has been received thus far.
The flooring has already been ordered, and is “on its way,” Klump said Thursday.
The “grand re-opening” of the Toggery building is planned for Saturday, May 18, the weekend Willcox celebrates its history fest, she told the Range News.
This is not the first time members of the local community have come to the rescue of the Toggery building.
In October of 2003, the historical society saved the historic Huffman-Toggery building — along with its original furnishings from 1925 — inspiring Klump to proclaim, “An important piece of our history has now been saved.
“As a historical society, it is our duty to preserve as much history as we can. This is the last piece of Willcox history that is intact — its history is still there to be preserved.
“The only time we can save the building is now,” she said at the time. “People were so upset that the old high school and Harley’s (Valley Hardware) were sold and not preserved. We got the building in 1999, but all of Harley Windsor’s old stuff from way back was sold in an auction in the mid 1990s. We lost all that history.”
The society bought the Toggery building from then-owner Hazel Huffman at the reduced price of $80,000.
In 2008, the historical society paid off the mortgage balance of nearly $26,000 three years early, thanks to “whole bunch of people,” Klump said at the time.
Another challenge the historical society faced that year was that the Toggery’s exterior brick wall was badly in need of repair.
The society had received a written notice of a building code violation, which stated that the city would close down the building if the repair were not made. Private donations came to the rescue for the $6,500 repair.
Since the wall was repaired and the building paid for, any future donations would be used to make repairs to the building’s interior and upgrade the displays, she said at the time, leading to the recent round of repairs.
Anyone wishing to donate to the Toggery’s floor fund may call the Chiricahua Regional Museum at (520) 384-3971 or the Research Center at (520) 384-2291.
The Chiricahua Regional Museum and Research Center, 127 E. Maley St., is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and the Toggery building is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday