Erin Quinn Valcho and the Lacey Museum Presents the City of Lacey History Talks!

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The Lacey Museum and Cultural Center sits inside a charming 1926 historic building. At one point, the small residential home was the headquarters for Lacey’s City Hall, fire department, and police station. The house was dedicated as the museum in 1980 and has proudly served its community ever since. Erin Quinn Valcho is the museum curator at the Lacey Museum and Cultural Center and an integral part of the museum’s annual History Talks! series.

Lacey Museum building
The Lacey Museum is located in the charming 1928 Russell House in Lacey. Photo credit: Erin Quinn Valcho

Erin grew up in Bellingham, went to Pacific Lutheran University for her undergraduate degree, and got her master’s in museum studies from the University of Denver. She’s worked as a museum curator and a museum director for years.

The City of Lacey History Talks! Series

Once a month, from September to May, the museum welcomes speakers to come and tell stories from the rich history of the Lacey area and beyond. All of the museum’s History Talks! are free, whether you decide to listen virtually or attend in person.

The Lacey Museum’s annual History Talks! began in 2018, just one year before COVID hit. Fortunately, the History Talks! were able to survive the pandemic, as the presentations were able to become entirely virtual via Zoom. “It was one of the very few things that we could continue doing when we were all tucked away in our homes,” Erin says.

The first three History Talks! speakers for this year are already booked, and they’re each bringing something different and fascinating to the table.

September 28: Drew Crooks

The Lacey Depot Building
The Lacey Depot Building is another historical landmark and a replica of the original depot built in 1891. Photo credit: Erin Quinn Valcho

First up, on Wednesday, September 28, at 6:30 p.m., is Drew Crooks. Drew is a local writer and historian who has worked at the Lacey Museum and other museums in Puget Sound for over 35 years.

“Drew wrote a book about an artist named Edward Lange, who did these really amazing, highly detailed drawings of farms, businesses, and communities in Thurston County and other places in the Pacific Northwest,” explains Erin.

Drew will tell stories, recount new information, and show recently discovered images about the local artist during his program, “About Edward Lange: An Early Artist in Thurston County.”

“They’re really cool accounts of the area,” Erin says. “Maybe we don’t have a photograph of a certain place, but we do have Lange’s paintings.”

Drew Crooks’s talk will be offered as an online-only webinar. Registration is now open.

October 12: Karen Johnson

Next up on the History Talks! roster is Karen Johnson, an archivist at the Schmidt House in Tumwater. On Wednesday, October 12, at 6:30 p.m., Karen will share a true crime drama about a woman named Susie Lewis.

“Susie Lewis was a local woman who suffered a chain of terrible tragedies in her life, including abuse, broken homes, infidelity, murder, abandonment, a child’s death, and a fatal disease,” Erin says. “Her misfortunes continued even after her death.”

Karen’s presentation is called “Scoundrels: The Life of Susie Lewis,” which will recount Susie’s mysterious and unfortunate life while a resident of Tumwater in the early 1920s.

Karen’s history talk will be offered free online and in-person at the Lacey City Council Chambers.

November 9: Erich Ebel

people inside the Lacey Museum, looking around
Guided tours at the museum are offered year-round and conducted by museum staff and volunteers. Photo credit: Erin Quinn Valcho

On November 9, at 6:30 p.m., Erich Ebel will recount an exciting historical conflict between the United States and Great Britain that happened right here in Washington. Erich is the Communications Manager at the Department of Ecology and the former chair of the Lacey Historical Commission at the City of Lacey. He is also the Principal Consultant at Washington Our Home Communications, where he helps cultural community organizations reach a larger and more diverse audience. (https://washingtonourhome.com/)

“So, in 1859, the U.S. and Great Britain were on the verge of war for the third time in less than 100 years,” Erin explains. “And it started over the shooting of a pig that had uprooted a neighboring farmer’s potatoes.”

Erich’s presentation will be offered online and in-person at the Lacey City Council Chambers.

Visit the Lacey Museum

Erin and her staff find and book the eclectic mix of local authors, professors, and historians who speak during the annual History Talks! series.

When asked what she likes learning about the most, Erin explains that she isn’t interested in just one category of history. Instead, she is interested in the smaller stories that make up the intricacies of history in general.

“Every single person has their own unique life story that’s full of twists and turns. And I think finding those stories and diving deep into them is really interesting,” says Erin.

When Erin’s not working as the Lacey Museum curator, she can be found hanging out with her 12-year-old daughter. Erin hopes to jump back into acting at the Olympia Little Theater and the Olympia Family Theater when the pandemic eases.

Aside from Lacey Museum’s monthly History Talks!, you can visit the museum on Thursdays and Fridays between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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