More info: The Broomfield Depot Museum, 2201 W 10th Ave., collects, preserves, and interprets the history of Broomfield. Hours are noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. Weekday tours for groups can be arranged by contacting museum administrator Jacqui Ainlay-Conley at 303-460-6824.
In the basement of the Depot Museum, teen visitors focused their rapt attention on something that makes most museum curators cringe: Bugs.
During a history tour on Thursday night, museum administrator Jacqui Ainlay-Conley showed the students an old baby doll dress and other fabrics that had been nibbled on by the Dermestid beetle, which has a particular taste for old fibers.
"Ewww," the students said in fascination.
The Depot Museum, which hosts historical programs about Broomfield's early days, is due for some major repairs to continue promoting local history.
In August, the museum will prepare for a $75,000 repair to its foundation, and a second phase of restoration, which includes the rehabilitation of windows, siding, trim and doors, will start soon after and cost an estimated $150,000, according to a memo from Broomfield staff.
Though construction will impact the museum's regular tours and programs, Ainlay-Conley argues that deconstruction -- whether it comes in the form of cracked foundations or bug-eaten linens -- offers plenty of lessons, too.
During construction, which could last through fall 2014, the museum will shift its focus away from tours and programs and toward its "stabilization phase."
As the building is being restored, school groups will be invited to learn about the importance of historic preservation and get real-time lessons in how restorations work.
This upcoming round of restorations will show students how 104 years of use have affected the building.
"We'll ask them to do some detective work and ask them to look up at the soot on the ceilings to find where the fireplace used to be and look at the doorways to see how the building might have changed over the years," she said.
Broomfield's capital improvement budget includes $200,000 for the restoration project, but Ainlay-Conley hopes the museum will be able to score a $90,000 grant from the State Historic Fund to help with the process.
She expects to hear about the grant just before August, when they must start emptying out the depot's entire basement. Many of the museum's historic treasures, such as old clothing, historic documents and boxes of photos, are stored there.
Many items in the museum's collection tell the story of the historic building, which was built in 1909 and served as a train depot for an electric railway called the Denver and Interurban until 1926. In 1976, the depot was moved to its current location.
During Thursday's Digging Through History program, middle school-age students toured the depot and marveled at the lives of the former station agents who lived there after the turn of the century.
Life was pretty different for the families who lived at the depot. One side of the building included the depot's waiting room, the station agent's office and a place for luggage. The other side was living quarters that included a small parlor, a narrow kitchen and two tiny bedrooms, which became sweltering in the summer heat. The building had no electricity or running water for many years.
The living conditions didn't sound too great to the group of students, who said they much preferred the age of microwaves, air conditioning and hot showers.
"I could never, ever live here, even if this house was humungo," said 11-year-old Zoe Halperin, who said she came on the tour because of her interest in history. "Can you imagine living right next to a train? That would be terrible."
Lana Kaufman, 11, said she has a major interest in railroads and railroad history in the area. After a tour of the depot, though, she's glad she didn't have to live during that historic time period.
"The bedrooms were so small and so hot," she said.
Fran Jenner, a teen librarian at Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library, said the library and Depot Museum planned the tour to get more kids interested in Broomfield's little-known history.
The upcoming restoration will ensure that the museum collections and the building itself will be fit for the public to continue to learn about Broomfield's past, she said.
"A lot of kids aren't aware of the history, and this gives them a chance to explore it," she said.