BY CINDY A. JONES
Have you ever been drawn to something for reasons you can’t explain?
For years, I felt a strange pull to a Victorian home next to the Cannery building in North Ogden, a tiny, abandoned, two-story with a pointed gable, a columned porch, and decorative wooden shingles. I drove past the house every day, peeking in the windows on occasion. Something stirred in me every time I was near it.
In the summer of 2016, I posted on a Facebook community page and was referred to the North Ogden Historical Museum. I quickly contacted them and received a response from Holly Fuller, inviting me to come and look through their records and see if any of the volunteers might have more information about the home.
The museum, a 1942 farmhouse, was originally military housing. It was moved to the corner of 545 East and 2750 North in North Ogden, near the elementary school: the site of the first and only fort in North Ogden. An addition was built on using WWII ammunition boxes as a frame in 1945. The house itself looks ordinary, but when I entered the museum for the first time, I was completely unprepared for the bounty of history I’d find inside the doors.
Just inside the door, a miniature market is set up with vintage cans, dried goods, soaps, and other grocery items dating back to the early 1900s. A 1930’s cash register sits on the counter near an old produce scale. Nearby, a glass case holds over a dozen vintage cameras, the oldest being an original Brownie 2, manufactured sometime between 1910 and 1935.
In another room, a miniature replica of North Ogden circa 1930 is featured. The display features tiny depictions of many of the historic homes and estates in North Ogden that have now been demolished, complete with a working miniature railway. A few closets house a large collection of wedding dresses, military uniforms from WWII, and other clothing items dating back to the 1890s. In the garage, a restored 1908 buggy sits next to a working loom from the Union Loom Company, which closed down in 1930. The loom sits with strands of thread still woven through it, as if the maker simply stepped away.
If the museum itself is full of hidden gems, the collective files containing the stories of individuals and families from North Ogden’s history is the most impressive; hundreds of physical and digital files date back as far as 1851.
After I had wandered through the museum, Holly helped me locate an old picture of the little Victorian home I had been drawn to, using the address. With another search on the museum’s digital collections, she located the names of the original owners who built the home in 1902.
As it turns out, the owners were grandchildren of my ancestors, Robert and Mary Montgomery. The Montgomerys were immigrants from Scotland, and Mary is the individual who named our beloved mountain Ben Lomond, as it reminded her of home. None of this had I known until that day.
Just like the tiny museum, the historic home I had been drawn to held so much more meaning and history than what could be seen from the outside. Without the passionate volunteers working to connect people to the past, I may have never known them. Next time you have a free afternoon, I invite you to step into North Ogden Historical Museum and explore the past with the volunteers. You just might find your own unexplained draw to the past.