Preserving Arenac County’s History

Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, Omer’s Ye Olde Courthouse has withstood a tornado, two devastating fires, a heavy flood, and a disastrous ice storm. It’s a piece of local history that the community is very proud of, and a group of dedicated volunteers has stepped up to ensure it will always withstand the test of time.

In 2004, the Arenac Historical Society purchased the building, and its volunteers work hard to fundraise for its current maintenance through rummage sales, bake sales, and the like. But for its future, the historical society wanted a more permanent plan in place.

“We want to make sure that after our core group of volunteers is gone, there will be funds available to maintain it,” said Brenda Matt, a committee member for the courthouse.

Three years ago, a designated fund for the courthouse was started at Bay Area Community Foundation with a gift of only $1,000. Since then, the fund has grown to more than $57,000. This is all thanks to the hard work and vision of this group of volunteers. Because the fund is endowed, it continues to earn interest each year and, with diligent financial management by BACF, will continue on forever.

Each year, the group helps grow the fund for the future by participating in Give Local Bay, BACF’s 24-hour fundraiser for nonprofit funds. In 2017, they raised more than $8,500 during the event. But what is even more impressive than the total dollars raised is the number of donors they get involved. With gifts from 83 individual donors, it is truly a testament to how as a community, we are better together.

“For those who haven’t seen the courthouse yet, we’d love to show it to you,” said Joann Gulau, an active fundraiser for the building. “It’s a great piece of history, and we want to make sure it is preserved.”


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