Janet “Dobey” (Falter) Haws clipped the ribbon and ceremoniously opened The John P. Falter Museum last Wednesday during a ceremony held in the front of the museum location at 17th and Stone Street.
The museum is still under construction but before Christmas will display the works of local artist John P. Falter. Haws and several others gave remarks during the ceremony, including Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman.
“I’m always pleased to travel this great state and tell people that I was born down here in Falls City,” Gov. Heineman said. “This is a very special community and this area as evidenced by what is going on here today.
You know there are a lot of people who deserve a lot of credit for why we’re here today and let me just acknowledge the Falter Museum Committee, the Nebraska State Historical society, the Richardson Foundation, the Library & Community Foundation, Dobey and her committee for all they have done to make this happen, and you know we’re celebrating a very special person,” Heineman said.
John Philip Falter became a world renowned illustrator and historic painter, but never lost his love for Falls City. Following his death in Philadelphia in 1982, his studio and some of his paintings were donated to the Nebraska State Historical Society in Lincoln. The NSHS is loaning the Falter Museum Committee his studio.
“Some of you may not know that John Falter was a chief petty officer in the Navy and he painted recruitment posters and other patriotic materials and I know that Falls City is very very proud of him and his family and let me just say from a state perspective we are very very proud. That is one thing about Nebraska that I would share with you. We have a lot of famous people in this state and really I’d say every one of you, for what you do for this state very single day. That is why Falls City and Nebraska is such a special place to live to work and to raise a family.
“Falls City is now moving in the right direction and a lot of you have invested your time, energy and money in this community for what it means. So today in a way it’s a celebration of all of that. Let me just say that not only am I proud to be from Falls City but I’m proud to be the Governor of the best state in the United States of America,” Gov. Heineman concluded.
Falter Museum fundraisers successfully pushed the collection effort past the $100,000 mark and renovation of the former Richardson County Bank building is on schedule to open Friday, Nov. 28, just in time for Santa Claus’ annual visit and Falls City’s downtown Christmas window opening.
The monetary target is $225,000, which would cover the entire remodel, as well as five years of site maintainance. Falls City native and architect Merle Bachman, general contractor Jim Murphy, Gary Jones of Jones Air Conditioning and Ben Howard of El Camino Electric have teamed up to construct the museum.
Mrs. Haws, who’s father, the late John C. Falter, was a first cousin to the famous Falls City artist, spearheaded the effort thanked those who helped her make it happen.
“It’s so exciting. We feel like this project will further enhance and promote this art in southeast Nebraska,” she said. “Projects like this become a reality because of many dedicated people who share their valuable time and resources and become a working, thinking team.
She closed with a quote the famous artist made about his hometown: “Of course you know, I never really left Falls City; every chance I would get I would bring my family back here so they could see where my roots were planted. I love this state.”
Major financial donors, those who have given more than $5,000, include: The Union Pacific Foundation, The Richardson Foundation, Stalder Foundation, Merle and Trula Bachman, Vandeberg Foundation, Rod Vandeberg, Mitch Glaeser, F&M Bank, Richardson County Visitor’s Bureau, and Butch and Dobey Haws.
“John Falter once said that he never left Nebraska and that’s kind of what we’re all talking about here today and that’s what the Richardson Foundation’s all about in this partnership, Steve Kottich, speaking on behalf of the Richardson Foundation, said. “Once you have been introduced to and know the people of Falls City, sooner or later we pull you in.”
Nobody represents that better than Mitch Glaeser, a Florida-based entrepreneur who has invested substantial capital in Falls City, purchasing and renovating both the Grand Weaver Hotel (formerly the Stephenson Hotel) and the former RCB&T building.
“Seven years ago, the governor told me that ‘Falls City will impress you day in, day out, year after year and they will never disappoint,” Glaeser, in attendance Wednesday, said. “That word could never be truer than what’s being done today and what will continue to be done in this community. So many things have been accomplished because we have all collaborated and come together to make this community so much better.
“The arts have such a huge impact on the youth,” Glaeser said. “Great people like John Falter are never forgotten and this is a defining moment for not only him but also the community of Falls City.”