It is like a bed and breakfast, with a good dose of history thrown in. The Glacier County Historical Museum has started a new program, “Overnight in History.” And that title explains it perfectly.
Overnight in History is all about experiencing a night back in time. Places like the Burlington Northern caboose, the Hegg 1930s oil worker’s house or a room in a Maltby homestead are the Overnight in History places guests can come spend a night or two, reliving life as it used to be.
Guests can spend the night in one of these venues, all of which are located on museum property. “The structures will be comfortable and the accommodations reasonable with the primary goal being to promote learning through historic accuracy,” said Betsy Seglem.
Betsy is helping her husband Dennis, who is the Director at the museum. Together they are finding ways to fundraise for the museum and continue promoting the historical benefits the museum offers to Glacier County residents and visitors. And they have found a way with their Overnight in History program.
“The adventure will begin with a site orientation, optional dinner, discussion about the venue and its role in history, the overnight stay and breakfast the next morning,” explained Betsy.
She continued, “Authentic experiences like this one are rare and they are not for everyone. These places are historically accurate and are not necessarily considered a vacation destination. They are more like an interactive, historical experience destination with a twist.”
ach venue has been accurately furnished and the beds are comfortable. The cost for a one-night stay in any of the three historical venues is $225 a night for double occupancy, which includes breakfast for two. Reservations for these rooms, which will be available during the April 1 through October 15 season, can be made by calling 406-450-0999. Winter bookings are available, for those interested in braving the cold and possibly snow while spending the night.
If you choose the homestead, for example, Betsy said, “An historian will meet guests at the homestead for a discussion bringing them into the world of a homesteader. They will learn about washing clothes using a stone boat, copper boiler, rapid washer, and washtub and the five-mile quest for water. Guests can use the woodstove for heating if necessary or to make coffee or tea and try their hand grinding coffee beans in the grinder.”
To see this venue as well as the other two, check out the museum’s website at glaciermuseum.org.
“This project is real as we are presently advertising this program nationally,” Betsy shared. “There is, however, one missing ingredient and that is a shower. There is a restroom in the museum that guests can use.”
How does a facility that has lost some of its funding through Glacier County, find the means to put together a fantastic program like this?
“First Interstate Bank has contributed $5,000 towards the $15,000, 12x12 shower facility project. Other grant opportunities are being explored and, of course, individual or business donations, will help us tremendously,” Betsy said.
She added, “We are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and while we are trying to preserve the funds the county is able to provide, we would like to eventually be a self-sufficient entity. It is our hope that these two new programs we are rolling out will produce revenue that we can turn around and use throughout the year to keep the museum open for business.”
So, Overnight in History is the first program in place, what is the second program Betsy referred to?
“The museum is in the process of locating funds to rebuild the original Point Drive-Inn in order to generate additional revenue, reintroduce a forgotten community tradition and interpret the 1950s,” said Betsy. “The plan is to recreate the original 12-foot by 24-foot building, started by Jake and Ed Jacobson in 1951. The building will be small enough to be affordable for us, but big enough to accomplish our goals.”
Betsy said “in order to make this project a reality, we will need close to $23,000, with phase one, building the shell of the drive-inn, costing around $8,000.” The cement pad has already been poured for the building. Betsy is busy writing grants that have the potential to get this project off the ground.
“We plan to be open on selected evenings where we will offer a limited menu of ice cream treats and bottled sodas which will be served via curb service with orders being delivered by car hops. Period music will be played and occasionally we plan to add to the menu by serving hot dogs and hamburgers,” Betsy explained.
And to add to the ambiance, an area sign contractor has agreed to refurbish the Point’s neon sign, so it can be lit when it is open for business.
To keep the 1950s theme rolling, Betsy said the adjacent parking lot can easily become a dance floor for the occasional sock hops, antique car shows or “other events designed to attract a variety of audiences.”
The Point Drive-Inn stayed in its original small building until 1956, when the Jacobson’s realized they had outgrown that space and needed something larger. The much larger Point Drive-Inn was then built on the east end of Cut Bank. It is that space many Cut Bank residents remember to this day.
There are several ways you can help the museum get the Point Drive-Inn project off the ground and keep the Overnight in History program alive and well too.
“Any level of funding you can donate, would be forever appreciated, whether in the form of a one-time donation or a museum yearly membership, all of which are tax deductible,” Betsy said. “And we also need volunteers at the museum for not just these two projects, but for help in the museum regularly and for other events we host. These volunteer jobs are very enjoyable.”
To learn about volunteering, contact the museum at 406-873-4904. Donations can be made through the website or by mailing a check to: Glacier County Historical Museum, P.O. Box 576, Cut Bank, MT 59427.
As the brochure Betsy created for the Point Drive-Inn project reads, “The museum needs to diversify its income in order to continue to collect, preserve and interpret the history of this Montana area through exhibits and public programs which are creative, stimulating, interactive and educational. The Point Drive-Inn project does all of that and will bring the community together through ice cream!”