Presidential Museum Planning Special July 4th Display

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA--Due to looming financial problems, the Presidential Museum in Odessa, faced the possibility of shutting down.  In fact, Wednesday, July 1st, was the date that was set to happen.

Administrators are determined to keep the doors open.  They're hoping a 4th of July display, focusing on the true meaning of Independence Day, will help keep the visitors coming.

"We have unusual items that we want to feature, the Constitution, the Declaration, the Bill of Rights.  All of those things that helped form the foundation of our Country," Museum Administrator, Lettie England, said.

The focal point of the display is an original copy of the Declaration of Independence. It's also what the weekend's fesitivies are all about.

According to England, "If we don't remember the sacrifices that were made by others, in order for us to have what we have today, we take those for granted.  I think we all need to be reminded of that and never ever take that for granted."

The document is over 150 years old and came close to being thrown away.   It was found and donated by a family in Florida.

"It was rolled up with some architect drawings and stuff and it almost got disposed of.  The family who found it, took it to the University of Florida to get their opinion about it and that's when they discovered what it was and how rare it was and how valuable it was," England explained.

When you go and see the document, you can see the cracks and the water damage the document has suffered throughout the years and is in desperate need of restoration. Unfortunately, the closest place to get that done is in Dallas, and that costs money, something the museum is in desperate need of, not only for document restoration but day to day survival.

"The issues are still there.  There has been some support come in but not in the extent that we need," England said, who is hopeful the community will band together, remembering the blood sweat and tears that went into founding the museum, to help keep it open.  "We cannot discard the investment that has already been made."

Because it'll take more than hope to keep the doors open. "You can't pay the electric bill with a wish and a prayer, but I know that there are people out there who believe in the mission of the museum, who realize the work of the founding members," England said.

The Declaration of Independence will be on display at the Presidential Museum from 10 a.m until 5 pm., on Friday July 3rd and from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m on Saturday, July 4th.  The museum is located at 4919 East University in Odessa.