"Most people don't even seem to be aware of the Whitaker Museum," said Rebekah Barton, chair of the museum board. "We're focusing most on figuring out ways to get people out to the museum, then get them to want to come back time after time. We want to make Whitaker a vital part of the community."
A significant part of the board's brainstorming has been in coming up with new programs and events for the museum, located at 168 North Main. At the museum board's request, Centerville officials have included $10,000 in the upcoming year's budget for Whitaker Museum to pursue such projects.
"We've previously put money into the museum for special projects and repairs, but this is the first time we've set aside money for things that haven't yet been decided on," said Centerville Finance Director Blaine Lutz. "The board would still need approval from the city council before they could do any spending, but money has been set aside for them."
One of the biggest events, currently scheduled for sometime in September or early October, is a harvest festival that the group hopes will stretch for several blocks along one side of Main Street.
The event will feature a wide variety of activities including walks through large pumpkin displays, pumpkin carving contests for both adults and children, apple bobbing, wagon rides, and fiddlers playing what Barton described as "old-fashioned" music.
"It's the type of celebration people would have had during harvest time in the old days," said Barton. "Hopefully, we'll get a lot of the community there."
Other suggestions that have been considered by the board include school outreach programs, historical photo opportunities, museum parties, a database of the oral histories of Centerville residents, an increased class schedule and having the museum open for more hours a week.
Currently, the museum is only open Wednesday and Thursday from 1-5 p.m., and an expanded schedule would depend largely on volunteer assistance.
At the same time the museum board is continuing to research and discuss whether it would be best to keep the Whitaker Museum's 1960s addition, currently being used as a meeting room, or restore the house back to a more historically accurate state.
An architectural study done earlier this year suggested that removing the addition would be structurally dangerous to the rest of the museum, but the board is carefully looking at all sides.
"We're still analyzing," said Barton. "There's a lot to look at on that building, and it hasn't been our highest priority."