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Madison County to vote on dissolving relationship with museum and archival library

Officials are expected to vote Wednesday night to dissolve its 97-year relationship with the Madison County Historical Museum and Archival Library.

The Finance Committee will hold a special meeting prior to the County Board meeting to discuss a resolution terminating the lease for the museum and granting the Madison County Historical Society $300,000.

Chairman Kurt Prenzler said the society, which leases the museum and library property to the county, approached the county wanting to end the relationship.

“The historical society wants to go in a new direction,” Prenzler said. “This is a savings for the taxpayers and everyone wins.”

In 1924, the County Board designated a courthouse room for society’s historical collections and thus the birth of the museum and archival library.

In 1963, the society purchased the Weir House at 715 N. Main St., Edwardsville, and started renovations and in the same year, the County Board voted to create a tax levy for operating the historical museum.

On Nov. 1, 1964, the museum moved to the Weir House to accommodate the society’s growing history collection.

In April 1975, the county approved its first lease with the historical society. The county leases the museum property from the society, collects the taxes for the operation and maintenance of the facilities, and pays for museum personnel salaries and benefits.

The county budgets approximately $250,000 annually for the museum.

In June 2009, the county and society signed the current lease, which included additional properties

On July 1, 2016, the society closed the Weir House to replace the roof and its remained closed since that time as the property continues to undergo renovations and repairs.

The resolution states, “the County Board determines that public necessity and convenience require the termination of the lease and operating agreement effective Nov. 30.”

Prenzler said the levy will be “zeroed” out starting in in 2022. The museum’s current tax levy collected $106,962.

“The county will collect 2021 taxes in 2022 and after that the levy will no longer appear on property tax bills,” he said.

The Madison County Historical Society, founded in 1921, is a private non-profit 501.c.3 organization managed by a volunteer board whose goal is to collect and preserve Madison County’s historical artifacts, documents and stories. These are made available to the public through a museum and library as well as educational endeavors like the MCHS Speakers Series and a newsletter.

Madison County tax revenues have gone toward the support of two full-time and six part-time librarians and curators who provide professional staff for the buildings that house the MCHS collections, according to the society’s website.

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