Sheri Samson The old Anchor Motel on Main Street in Hawthorne is being demolished to make room for the expansion of the Mineral County Ordnance Museum, which recently purchased the property.

Sheri Samson
The old Anchor Motel on Main Street in Hawthorne is being demolished to make room for the expansion of the Mineral County Ordnance Museum, which recently purchased the property.

A new town improvement is taking place as the old Anchor Motel is slowly being demolished, and the Mineral County Ordnance Museum will be expanding.

“It was in the best interest of the Ordnance Museum to approach the owners with a fair offer, explaining that the property was inhabitable for any future business,” said Wanda Millsap, who is considered second in command for the Ordnance Board of Directors explained the vision for the property.

“As a non-profit, we will be expanding our large display items into this adjoining lot. Currently we are in the midst of disassembling the property structures and properly disposing of the debris,” she said. “We have always held to the goal of improving our town in representing the history and the town’s true foundation with the base. We are proud to say that we have encountered people from all over the world and truly made a connection with other museums. Our curator, Peter Papadakos, hopes to locate pieces from the Vietnam era and concentrate on enhancing the street view for the highway visitors to see. His efforts have developed strong bonds throughout the country as we have networked into museum trades, loaned specialty pieces out and have donated a Drone display that shows at the Smithsonian. Most people have no idea that Hawthorne is represented in such a prestigious location. Papadakos was even able to assist an Australian museum as they began to set up, as the Ordnance Museum had come to them as a highly recommended model. This information was carried to them by one of our visitors along the way, and a positive connection was made.”

Amidst this new endeavor, several of the older projects have a new energy, moving them toward completion. Millsap shared that the ongoing brick wall is actively filling up, with additional bricks being purchased at $100 each, in memorial to those that have served our country or possibly died at the base. A recent Facebook posting had asked how those who had died in relationship to the base could be remembered. A quick response reminded the public that the brick wall was already progressing to make that memory stand strong. There is a young, local man stepping forward to assist in the final masonry stages, and anyone interested can contact the museum directly.

Millsap went on to explain that the corner offices that once housed the Economic Development site will soon be transformed into a new exhibit. The staff is developing many items to become an “everyday military living space” theme. This means that the bunks, office items, old printing presses and military life items will be positioned within this space, some of which will be moved from the existing placement in the current staging area. The museum is happy to accept appropriate donations, whether that is monetary or specific items of care. The gift shop is a source of income in this non-profit venture, as it allows visitors to take home military related keepsakes and mementos.

In relationship to the volunteers, Millsap stated that not every volunteer has a military background.

“All we ask is the a volunteer give three hours a week, either from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. or from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. once a week. It is more of a hosting opportunity and requires very little instruction. We appreciate our volunteers so much; it is never our intent to burn someone out. Another area of volunteer hours we are seeking will be an upcoming coordination of donated photographs. Over the years we’ve received some priceless donations, but we need people to help us try to identify the individuals in the photos, then create a packaging to protect them properly.”

Millsap referred to one area currently on display in the museum that has older pictures of civilian “bomb builders” working at the Hawthorne base, but not all the names have been filled in. There is a sticky note attached, which allows locals to come help identify those faces in the black and white photos.

“We welcome our locals to stop by and assist us with some of these smaller issues at any time. It is such a help to accomplish the identity of our local base members, as names we want to have preserved properly.”