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  • Betty Winkelmeyer Wells addressed the crowd at the first informational gathering to solicit ideas and recruit volunteers for the Severna Park Museum.
    Photo by Dylan Roche
    Betty Winkelmeyer Wells addressed the crowd at the first informational gathering to solicit ideas and recruit volunteers for the Severna Park Museum.

First Informational Meeting Shares Plans For Severna Park Museum

Dylan Roche
View Bio
November 3, 2017

Betty Winkelmeyer Wells was looking through what she described as “all this old stuff” — trinkets, equipment and tools that her parents had acquired over the years since opening their coal and feed store in 1947 — when she realized how much each item told about the way people lived in past decades. “I thought, ‘We need a museum in Severna Park,’” she said. “We need a free place where kids can walk through and learn about the heritage of where they live. So I began to talk to people in the community, and they said, ‘If you get it going, I’ll help.’ That was all I needed.”

And get it going she did. In late October, Wells held her first informational gathering to discuss Severna Park Museum Inc., a nonprofit organization she had established with the legal guidance of lawyer Brian Jablon of Wellens & Jablon, the financial advice of CPA Karl Appel of Gardiner & Appel Group, and the encouragement of countless others in the community.

At the gathering, Wells shared her vision with a group of longstanding residents and businesspeople. With the organization still in its early stages, Wells did not have any concrete plans for the museum but instead wanted to talk about her work so far, solicit ideas, recruit volunteers and spread the word.

She also welcomed input from volunteers who have either helped establish museums or helped continue them. John Howard, a retired police officer and a volunteer for the Maryland State Police Museum, explained that one of the big challenges to start any museum is the fundraising. “You cannot put enough pretzel jars in enough 7-Elevens to raise enough money to build a museum in Anne Arundel County,” he said. “You need help.” He shared the MSP Alumni Association’s experience with bringing in a professional fundraiser who was able to help them organize a benefit event that drew about 800 people. He pointed out that funds are necessary not only for renovating or maintaining the museum’s home but also for buying such necessities as showcases to display artifacts or mannequins to display clothes.

Betty Ann Blanchard with Historic Hancock’s Resolution talked about the importance of retaining supporters. “If you have a database person, sign them up,” she said. “You need a database to keep in contact with people who are interested, keep in touch with them when events come up.”

Wells said that she was pleased by the interest she saw from people at the informational gathering because she hopes everyone will be able to help make her vision a reality. “It’s the beginning of the journey,” she said. “The biggest thing with something like this is the people.” Severna Park Museum Inc. needs to establish a board of trustees and form committees to undertake operations such as finances and public outreach.

Although no opening date has been set for the museum, Wells has decided that it will be housed in one of the vacant suites in her building, known as Winkelmeyer Plaza, at 540 Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard. She hopes to have contractors design the space to reflect what Severna Park might have looked like in its early days, with architectural nods to barns and farmhouses.

She is also collecting artifacts and showpieces so that the museum’s collection goes above and beyond what she got from her family. “This is not going to be a Winkelmeyer Museum,” she emphasized. “This is going to be the Severna Park Museum.”

Additional gatherings will be held in the months to come. To get involved, Wells encourages people to send their contact information to 540 Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard, Suite 1, Severna Park, MD 21146.

Wells hopes that having the museum will ensure Severna Park’s past is not forgotten. “Everyone needs to know where they came from; we all need roots,” she said. “Everyone remembers the last 20 years because it’s documented.”

Now that Severna Park Museum Inc. is moving full steam ahead, Wells is seeing a lot of hard work pay off. “This has been that girl’s dream,” said Wells’ husband, Wilbur Wells. “She doesn’t brag about it to anybody, but she’s been working night and day, weekends, you name it.”

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