Construction begins on Old Schoolhouse Museum multipurpose building

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Twentynine Palms Historical Society founding member Cheryl Erickson, left, joins President Les Snodgrass, founding member Bob Carter and Twentynine Palms Mayor McArthur Wright in turning the first shovels full of dirt during the organization’s groundbreaking ceremony for its new 2,222-square-foot multipurpose room Friday afternoon, April 6, 2018. The event on the grounds of the Old Schoolhouse Museum drew about 50 people. (Historical society photo by Kelly O’Sullivan)




TWENTYNINE PALMS — Two days after a well-attended groundbreaking ceremony, the Twentynine Palms Historical Society began construction on a 2,222-square-foot multipurpose building on the grounds of the Old Schoolhouse Museum.

About 50 people attended the groundbreaking, Friday afternoon, April 6, 2018.

President Les Snodgrass kicked off the celebration by introducing volunteers who have played key roles in the historical society since it was formed on April 26, 1982, including Ann Congdon, who created the building plans, and Bob Carter, who was instrumental in the building design. “Without their help, we wouldn’t be here today,” Snodgrass said. He also thanked the Twentynine Palms City Council, City Manager Frank Luckino, Assistant City Manager Larry Bowden, Community Development Director Travis Clark, civil engineer Craig Phillips, John Goodman of Redtail Archeology, and the Twenty-nine Palms Band of Mission Indians for helping bring the project to fruition.

After an invocation by Twentynine Palms Mayor McArthur Wright, Snodgrass talked about the project, which is the result of years of hard work and fundraising.

“Eight years ago when I was first elected as president, I set two rather lofty goals for myself and the society. They were to complete the restoration of the Hastie Bus and build a facility to house it, and finish phase two of our expansion project,” Snodgrass said. “In 2012, the bus was completed and running under its own power. In 2014, we completed the bus exhibit building thanks to a grant from MBTA and some very dedicated volunteers.”

“Getting phase two of our expansion project to this point has been a long, tedious and, at times, frustrating journey. Originally planned to be a wing added on to the library and archives wing, it is now going to be a separate building,” he said, noting the building will house a 1,500-square-foot multipurpose room, a catering kitchen, restrooms and storage spaces.

The multipurpose room will accommodate approximately 200 people in an auditorium configuration or 100 people in a conference room configuration. Once completed, it will serve as a gathering spot for the society’s annual Old Timers Gathering, annual meetings, the Weed Show and other events. In addition, Snodgrass said it “will give us valuable meeting space that we plan to make available for use by other nonprofit organizations and events.”

After Wright talked about the Old Schoolhouse Museum’s cultural importance in the community and recounted a story about bringing his 4-year-old son to the facility to learn about the community’s history, Snodgrass called for him and founding members Cheryl Erickson and Bob Carter to come forward, grab a golden shovel and turn the first mounds of dirt for the project.

After the ceremony, attendees enjoyed refreshments in the museum library.

On Sunday, April 8, Snodgrass was back at the museum, working with Scott Clark of Clark Construction Co. – Desert Dirt Works to begin excavation to prepare the ground for the pouring of the foundation.

The society has approximately $140,000 in its expansion fund, and will continue to raise money for the project throughout construction.

Anyone who is interested in donating time, materials or money toward the project is asked to contact Snodgrass at (760) 861-5801 or

“If you can help in any way — providing labor, skills, material or cash — we would be most appreciative,” he said.

For updates on the project, visit the society’s Facebook page.




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