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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Intern gets hands-on Phelps County history experience

  • Twenty-seven year old Rachel Forester has received a hands-on history lesson this summer as the Phelps County Historical Society's first-ever intern.
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  • Twenty-seven year old Rachel Forester has received a hands-on history lesson this summer as the Phelps County Historical Society's first-ever intern.
    According to Historical Society board member Lawrie Seltzer, Forester's internship was made possible because of a $1,000 grant the society received from the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce.
    Forester is a pursuing her master's degree in historic preservation for Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau. Her internship is one the last steps before she receives her degree.
    "It has been really good," she said of the experience. "I have been able to apply much of what I learned in the classroom to what really happens at a small museum."
    One of her jobs has been to catalog archival items into the historical society's computer database. She estimates that over the last couple of months, she has been able to document around 120 to 130 pieces.
    "My favorite piece that I have come across is a small photo of the Frazier family. Through some research, I was able to learn that they were a family that owned a wagon company in the area in the 1800s," she told the Daily News.
    As for her favorite historical era, Forester said she's intrigued by the early 1900s.
    In fact, one of her final projects before her internship ended July 25 was to put together a turn-of-the-century display on the second floor of the Old Phelps County Courthouse where the historical society calls home.
    Another passion of Forester is keeping alive the history of her hometown of Newburg.
    As part of one of her college courses on the workings of the National Register of Historic Places,  she had to do extensive research on a particular place of interest. She chose the Houston House in Newburg.
    Her 25-page discourse on the historic house and its significance over the century led to her applying to have it placed on the Missouri Preservation's 2014 List of Most Endangered  Places.
    "After submitting the application (in the spring), I got a call from the group and they told me that the house had been selected," she told the Daily News. "It was pretty exciting."
    The Houston House is one of Newburg's original buildings. In its heyday, it was the boarding house for the St. Louis-San Francisco (Frisco) Railroad that would stop in Newburg for refueling.
    According to Bill Hart, Missouri Preservation field director, the idea is that by putting places like the Houston House on the list, more attention will be given to sites that are in need of rescue.
    Some of that attention has already occurred as Forester has received a handful of calls from people asking how they could help.   
    She said she's not content with just getting the Houston House of this state list, but has her eyes set on the National Register of Historic Places.
    Page 2 of 2 - "That would be awesome," she said, "as this place needs a lot of tender loving care."

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