In the fall of 2004, Richard Simpson, Roy Wilde ,and Jack Underwood met several times to discuss if Arnold could/should have a Historical Society. Rich represented the schools, Roy represented Arnold and the original villages, and Jack was willing to put in the time. The mechanics of how to make this happen would fall to Jack Underwood.
On June 17, 2005, a group of 30 interested citizens met in the Arnold Library to organize the Arnold, Missouri Historical Society. Jack Underwood agreed to serve as President for one year. He signed the Charter as well as Jim West and Bonita Owen. Allen Flamm was elected Vice President, Bonita Owen, Secretary, and Bernie Wilde was elected Treasurer. By August 2005, a Constitution and Bylaws was adopted.
Jack discussed with Arnold City Officials about the need for a museum. The City offered for free a small trailer in Ferd Lang Park at 1838 Old Lemay Ferry Road. Jack worked tirelessly to get a 501(c)3 tax exempt status. Several members donated money to begin the setup with necessary items. Artifacts came primarily from local people who had saved treasures from the past.
The museum opened to the public in Oct. 2005. One of the first items of business was to do a reprint of the Historic Arnold book, originally made in 1976. The City agreed to pay the printing bills and, as the 1500 books were sold, repay the loan to the City. A second item was to create a quilt with historic pictures. The quilt was raffled off in Nov. 2006 and won by Rhonda Leach. She loaned it back to the Society to display.
In March, 2007, Allen Flamm created a logo which honors the Early Settlers—the Indians. An arrowhead honors the Indians that resided along the banks of the Meramec and Mississippi Rivers. Arrowheads of many sizes and shapes were used by the Indians for hunting and for protection. Numerous arrowheads have been collected by area farmers when they till the soil. The feather represents the Indian culture and the wildlife so prevalent to the survival of the Indian. The gentle curve to the spine in the feather represents the span of time between past, present and future.
On September 20, 2007, a catered picnic was held for all City officials who had helped us along the way. But that evening, at a City Council meeting, an announcement was made that the Historical Society could only use ½ of the trailer beginning on Jan. 1, 2008, and the other half would be occupied by the Chamber of Commerce. And the Society would now pay $100 a year rent.
During the next two months, artifacts were sorted out and most of the items went into storage at the home of Bernie Wilde. The remaining artifacts were displayed so that people could still walk through the museum. Finding a permanent home was now a top priority.
In 2009, the Society began creating a yearly calendar with historic photos of the Arnold area. The last calendar to be printed was for 2013.
At the Nov. 8, 2011, Annual Meeting, President Bernie Wilde told about visiting many vacant homes in which to house the museum. Then Rich Simpson suggested a two-story medical building on Jeffco which formerly housed a Health Care Equipment group. The building was available for $165,000. Because the Arnold Historical Society has an educational component, an anonymous donor who supports education, offered to buy the building for the Society. The interior was renovated and painted during the next six months. The six display rooms on main floor are named after the six villages that were merged into Arnold. Other necessary items were brought up-to-date. All of the artifacts were returned to display in the museum in early July, 2012.
Open House and Ribbon Cutting by the Chamber of Commerce was held July 12, 2012, with the largest group in attendance. A second Open House for Arnold residents was held on August 11. A barbecue was held and four local bands played throughout the day.
The Society continues to hold fundraisers to pay expenses for the Museum as well as Historic Richardson Cemetery.