For Historic Preservation month on May 2, the Clark County Historical Museum will be taking its First Thursday Speaker Series to Ridgefield’s Old Liberty Theater. The free event will celebrate Ridgefield and will be part of the new initiative by the museum to celebrate the local businesses, architecture, and history.
“Downtown Ridgefield and its businesses have a long and storied history,” said Brad Richardson, CCHM executive director, and the event’s keynote speaker, in a news release. “We feel it’s important to discuss the stories of our communities at, or in, the places where they took place. It hearkens to the idea, ‘If these walls could talk.’ The Old Liberty Theater provides the perfect setting for this exploration and discussion.”
A brief history
Once called Union, given that Union soldiers and their families began moving there after the Civil War, Ridgefield formally started during a special election in 1909. Residents were in favor of incorporation by a 62-12 vote.
The same year, according to articles from The Reflector during those days (then known as the Ridgefield Reflector), the established businesses included: general stores, a department store, lumber mills, a creamery, a meat market, a hotel, a barber shop, a water well contractor and driller, a boot and shoemaker, a boat builder, a blacksmith, a realtor, and a weaver.
“Today, the businesses in historic Downtown Ridgefield serve the community in a different way, but retain the spirit of those early days in 1909,” Richardson said.