It started with an old garage, on the brink of demolition.

“The Colf family had this old garage and they were going to get rid of it, but decided to donate it to the museum for storage,” explains Tom Wooldridge, president of the La Center Historical Museum.

Of course, Wooldridge had other ideas. Instead of using the old white building for storage, he envisioned filling the garage with an assortment of historical kitchen gadgets and tools — sort of a glimpse into how La Center families lived in the early to mid-20th century.

The newly opened Annex museum sits beside the La Center Historical Museum, at 410 W. 5th St., La Center, and bills itself as a display of “grandma’s kitchen and grandpa’s tools.”

Although several La Center residents donated to the display, many of the items inside the Annex actually came from Wooldridge’s personal collection — his grandfather’s forge is in one corner, his grandmother’s giant sauerkraut masher in another.

“This really was Tom (Wooldridge)’s dream,” said Judy Hickman, a member of the La Center Historical Museum’s Board of Directors.

Inside the new Annex museum, visitors will see everything from a “Kitchen Queen” cupboard from the 1940s to turn-of-the-century flour sifters, cast iron kettles and coffee grinders to monkey wrenches, oil cans and screwdrivers that have withstood nearly 100 years of heavy use. For younger generations, the display is sure to be an eye-opener.

In fact, a few school groups and Boy Scouts have already toured the Annex, Wooldridge said, and the children had fun testing the working water pump and picking up the various blacksmithing tools, but were not quite ready to give up their modern-day gadgets.

“They thought it looked like a lot of work,” Wooldridge says. “And they didn’t think it looked too fun.”

The Annex will be open during the La Center Historical Museum’s regular hours — from noon to 4 p.m., the first and third Saturdays of each month — and by special appointment. School and youth groups are encouraged to call Wooldridge at (360) 263-6609 if they’re interested in arranging a special tour of the Annex. For more information about the La Center Historical Museum or the new Annex, visit

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