By ED MERRIMAN
Baker City Herald
A grand re-opening to celebrate the $1.5 million renovation of the Kam Wah Chung museum in John Day is set for May 3.
The celebration will start at 11 a.m. at the museum, near the John Day City Park along Canton Street and Ing Hay Way.
Residents of Baker and Grant counties, and others whose generous contributions made the museum restoration possible, will be honored with the dedication of a plaque from the Oregon State Parks Trust inscribed with all of the donors' names.
The plaque will be unveiled during Saturday's event, said Dennis Bradley, manager of the Oregon State Parks Clyde Holliday Management Unit headquartered in John Day.
andquot;Much of the $1.5 million came from private donations,andquot; Bradley said. andquot;A number of people in Baker City were involved, including Barbara Sidway at the Geiser Grand Hotel. She was very instrumental.andquot;
Scheduled speakers for Saturday's grand re-opening include Mary Oberst, first lady of Oregon; Tim Wood, Oregon State Parks director; and Dave Eshbaugh, executive director of the Oregon State Parks Trust.
Jeanne Day, who served as museum curator for 28 years and currently serves as president of Friends of Kam Wah Chung, is scheduled to receive the Carolyn Micnhimer Award for her many years of hard work and dedication to the museum, Bradley said.
andquot;Jeanne took care of the building (built in the 1860s) and told the story of Lung On and Doc Ing Hayandquot; the pair who operated a general store and provided medical
services at the site, initially for Chinese gold mine workers in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and later for the entire community as the men remained to become important community leaders for the remainder of their lives, Bradley said.
Lung On died in 1940 and Doc Ing Hay died in 1952.
What makes the museum such an attraction is that virtually everything inside is just as it was, allowing visitors to step back in time as they walk through the museum, Bradley said.
andquot;Hay provided herbal remedies called Polthology treatments. People come from hundreds of miles to visit Doc Hay, as he was called,andquot; Bradley said.
andquot;Doc Hay and Lung On stayed long after the rest of the Chinese community left, following the gold rush era,andquot; Bradley said, adding that some Chinese workers stayed on to work at area ranches and other businesses, but most left the area between 1900 and 1910.
The Kam Wah Chung museum was closed for 10 months for the renovation, which included repairs to deteriorating artifacts, furnishings and the building structure.
Other improvements funded with the $1.5 million included electrical upgrades and the installation of a mist fire suppression system, high-tech smoke alarm and a security alarm system.
Bradley said the museum has been closed for most of the past 18 months, beginning with the start of the renovation in November 2006. The renovation was essentially completed in August 2007 and the museum opened briefly between August and November, when it was closed again for the winter.
The museum, which is constructed of gray rattlesnake tuffstone quarried in the area, was closed once before, from around the time of Hay's death in 1952 until the mid-1970s, when the first museum renovation was completed and Jeanne Day came to work as the curator.