He established the Facebook Group “Edgewood, Iowa History & more,” where he posted and described photos of artifacts in his collection. His followers, currently numbering more than 1000, replied with memories recalled by the posts, and would post photos of their own artifacts, and thus many interesting online conversations were sparked.
Talk soon arose about the possibility of gathering artifacts into a museum where the stories they told would be available to everyone. Informal meetings and discussions followed among interested parties, and a public meeting was held to gauge the sentiment of the community and solicit advice. Following very positive public support expressed at that meeting, the decision was made by the organizers to move ahead with the establishment of a museum.
With that decision made, Hamlett offered to donate his extensive collection of Edgewood memorabilia as a foundation for the Museum’s permanent collection.
A volunteer board of directors elected officers, and filed the necessary paperwork to create a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, “The Edgewood Museum Corporation”.
The new organization began the task of finding a suitable location and raising funds. Gerald and Marge Perrinjaquet, whose family business has operated in town for more than 75 years, offered to donate an unused building, and a budget of $80K was set to refurbish and repurpose an old feed mill into museum space.
In a low key campaign of personal contacts, Facebook posts, and local newspaper promotion, funds arrived in small and large amounts, with a significant number of contributions from former Edgewood residents living all across the country. Formal grants were applied for and received from Black Hills Energy, Spahn & Rose Lumber Co., Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation, the Fund for the Future of Delaware County, SilverEdge Co-op/CoBank, and Community Savings Bank. The Ford Motor Company and Welterlen Motors sponsored a “Drive One For Your Community” fundraiser that brought in a substantial sum.
The response from local patrons and businesses was outstanding. To date, over $100K has been raised to complete rehabilitation of the building and to set up a working museum. The Museum opened on 18 June 2017.
The initial exhibits at the Museum were designed and executed by curator Doris Montag of Iowa City, who volunteered to assist the new museum in getting off the ground.