By Terrance Thornton, Scottsdale Independent, Feb 3rd, 2017
A view of the Little Red Schoolhouse that is now home to one of the most well attended museums in Arizona. (Photo courtesy of the Scottsdale Historical Society)
If the events of days gone by and the people who helped shape those events are not recorded and kept, a society might lose focus of the ideals that got them where they are today.
Historical societies all across the nation keep those records to help keep the identity of places people call, “home.”
The city of Scottsdale is no different.
“Right now, the Little Red Schoolhouse Museum is one of the best attended historical museums in the Valley,” said Scottsdale Historical Society Executive Director Rachel Smetana. “We got almost 20,000 visitors every year.”
What many may not know is the Scottsdale Historical Society was born in 1968 through community advocacy to halt the demolition of the school house, which was built in 1909.
For nearly five decades, advocates there say, the Scottsdale Historical Society has shared Scottsdale history with residents, visitors and school children.
“They are almost all tourists, so our mission is to really find a way this year to engage the actual Scottsdale community,” Ms. Smetana said of the 20,000 annual visitors.
That’s where the Scottsdale Charros come in.
The philanthropic group awarded the Scottsdale Historical Society with a $2,500 grant meant to help facilitate the “Scottsdale Historical Society Outreach Program.”
For 56 years the Scottsdale Charros have been in constant pursuit of improving the lives of Scottsdale residents while preserving the community’s ties to its western heritage.
“We have been operating at a deficit since the Great Recession and have been living off of our savings these past few years,” Ms. Smetana pointed out. “We have engaged former council members and have engaged with other folks who are around Scottsdale. I feel like the community is getting more vested.”
But Ms. Smetana says an outreach campaign is needed to get the word out that a historical museum exists and the Scottsdale Historical Society is a group of volunteers dedicated to preserving the history of the community of Scottsdale.
Having received its 501(c)3 status in 1977, the Scottsdale Historical Society all-volunteer board receives no public dollars, according to Ms. Smetana.
“Scottsdale has a fantastic history, artists and great thinkers,” She explained.
“This community has done great things, but where do you keep all of that history. We at the Historical Society try to keep documentation on how all of these important decisions were made.”
While Ms. Smetana says the Charros grant is a modest gift, she says she finds more value the Charros themselves found the Historical Society worthy of support.
“They see value in us, and for the Charros to have invested in us is really a great thing,” she said. “Now through this partnership and a stronger bond with the Charros we are going to have a great story to tell.”
A historical photo of the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce.