Remembering Bremen: History Center opens for business

BREMEN — The Bremen History Center is officially open.
A crowd of about 30 people gathered on Sunday for the grand opening and ceremonial ribbon cutting of the museum, 111 N. Center St., less than a block north of the intersection of Plymouth and Center.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but I’m pleased,” Virginia Henke, president of Historic Bremen Inc., the organization behind the Bremen History Center, said of Sunday’s turnout.
Many who came out for opening day agreed.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Evan Chambers, 18, a Bremen High School junior, said as he toured the museum. “My grandfather (Jay Stouder of Bremen) helped build (the interior) and I think he did a good job.”
The center displays much of Bremen’s history, from its origins to the more recent events, such as longtime Bremen resident Otis “Doc” Bowen’s run for governor.
The opening is essentially the culmination of about a decade of work, Henke said, with restoration of the historic depot.
“People who were involved at the time could see things being thrown away or given away or whatever and were interested in collecting things,” Henke said. “And so we started collecting things (for the planned history center).”
Efforts sped up, however, about two years ago after the Bremen Town Council agreed to let Historic Bremen use the space inside the town-owned building.
“The town has been very supportive and helpful,” Henke said.
The council also agreed to donate construction materials with the stipulation that history center volunteers perform the labor needed to renovate the space inside the three-story building.
“I think you’re going to find some very interesting things in the history center,” R.T. Henke, Historic Bremen treasurer and Virginia’s husband, said.
Several of those at the grand opening, including volunteers like Jay Stouder credited the Henkes and Kent Koontz, owner of Koontz Hardware, 112 E. Plymouth St., in seeing the history center to completion.
“As someone born and raised in Bremen, I just appreciate the fact that we see the importance of preserving our history,” Ind. State Sen. Ryan Mishler, R-Bremen, said.
Town officials said the new center should have an immediate impact on downtown.
“This is a wonderful place to collect, display and view the history of Bremen,” Council President Rick Graverson said. “I see many possibly uses for the history center. The one that stands out in my mind is an educational tool for all the school children of Bremen. What a great place to bring them for a field trip.”