LAKE WALES – Just a few days before Lake Wales History Museum Founder Mimi Hardman passed away Dec. 13, current Lake Wales History Museum Director Jennifer D'hollander published a press release announcing a $125,000 fundraising campaign to create the Mimi Hardman Collections and Research Center.
If successful, the campaign will finance the renovation of the 1916 Seaboard Airline Freight Station building. Located near the intersection of Kissimmee Avenue and Scenic Highway, the building will be renovated to permanently house 25,000 items of Lake Wales history dating back to 1852, when the original government survey of Lake Wales was completed.
“This new center for the city’s history would be a permanent home for the maps, quilts, furniture, photographs, military uniforms and loads of other objects Mimi and the museum collected for the past 40-plus years — and all the items we receive on a weekly basis,” D’hollander said. “In addition, we will have space to allow visits from the public to conduct research, or just look up information about family members in our Lake Wales High School yearbooks.”
As of December of 2019, 13,500 items have been cataloged and properly stored in archival safe containers and climate-controlled spaces. It is estimated an additional 8,000–10,000 items are waiting final inventory.
In addition, a full termite treatment of all four of the museum’s historic buildings was completed in November of 2019.
To complete the project, a full restoration of the wooden exterior of the building, installation of a museum storage system inside and interior upgrades will take place. Along with new landscaping, an exterior interpretive display will tell the story of the building, its architecture, former use and significance in the community.
New signage will name the building the Mimi Hardman Collections and Research Center, with a new dedication plaque for Hardman.
The City of Lake Wales has committed $37,500 to the project, and the museum has already raised another $14,500.
“But we need the community’s help to make this project a reality. We are now asking friends, community members and those who know Mimi to please make a donation to help us carry out this project,” D’hollander said.
For a complete informational packet about this project, or if you wish to donate, please visit https://www.lakewalesfl.gov/439/Lake-Wales-History-Museum .