Low interest rates may force Clay County Museum to close

LIBERTY, Mo. - Home buyers have celebrated low interest rates in recent years, but they could be contributing to the possible closure of a historic site in Liberty.

What was originally a drug store and medical practice on Liberty's town square has been home to the Clay County Museum for nearly 50 years.

The building, which was built in 1865, has a little bit of everything on three levels -- from Civil War rifles to primitive medical equipment. But its 1,500 yearly visitors are unable to see the museum's big problem.

"We're at the point where we have enough money to keep the museum open for approximately three months," said Carolyn Hatcher, president of the Clay County Museum and Historical Society.

She said the museum relies on interest rates from a $100,000 endowment set up in the 1960s. Back then, interest rates higher than 10 percent collected more than enough money for the museum.

These days, that interest rate is around 1 percent. That's only about $700 per year, combined with another $4,000 from donors, memberships and fundraisers. All in all, it's not nearly enough to maintain the old building.

"We are looking at several possibilities, but we may have to close the front doors," Hatcher said.

The historical society is seeking corporate sponsors and hopes reinvesting the museum's money will help the financial situation.

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