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Forney’s Spellman Museum Project
Yesterday’s News–Vol. VIII, No. 2, Oct., Nov., Dec. 2012 (Open print version.)
In September 2012, the City of Forney approved all plans and architectural drawings submitted by the Forney Historical Preservation League, (FHPL) for the construction and establishment of a new, expanded, Spellman Museum of Forney History to be housed in two downtown buildings built in the 1890’s.
The origin of a Forney museum was conceived by the generosity of Mick Spellman who made a private donation to the City of Forney to help fund their project to install an elevator and finish out the second floor of the historic city hall building, with the stipulation that space would be provided to the FHPL to establish and operate a history museum at that location. On September 22, 2001 a dedication ceremony was held outside city hall that included the opening of the second floor, the Spellman History Museum, and the new Kaufman County Sub-Courthouse located in the former Forney Post Office building near City Hall.
Mick Spellman died in August 2006 leaving a large part of his estate to FHPL for the purpose of establishing a permanent home for future growth of the Spellman Museum. FHPL purchased the Adams Hardware Store at 200 S. Bois D’Arc in August 2008, and in April 2009, purchased the Anderson Clayton Funeral Home building at 202 S. Bois D’Arc. Plans were drawn up and fund raising began for the restoration of the historical buildings where the Spellman Museum of Forney History would relocate into a spacious, beautiful, and functional facility.
After many months of progress, and some set backs, the project is well underway and completion is in sight. Craig Randall of Custom Remodeling was named Construction Manager. Leon Harp drafted revisions to the architectural drawings; interior demolition was completed; a structural engineer, consulting architect, and an electrical engineer, signed and sealed the revised drawings that were submitted to the City of Forney for a building permit. Great care is being given to maintain the historical integrity of the buildings’ exterior.
Today the reconstruction is progressing at a rapid pace. The facility will serve as a focal point in downtown Forney and will serve as a valuable resource for the citizens and visitors of Kaufman County. To follow the progress and learn more about the work of FHPL and the museum, visit their web site at www.historicforney.org, or “Like us on Facebook”. Search on Facebook for Spellman Museum of Forney History.
Kaufman County – Seventy-One Years Ago
The Mabank Banner – June 25, 1941
“Nazi and Italian activities in U. S. are curtailed by Government action”
“Following the sinking of the Robin Moor, the government tightened still further its net about fifth columnists*, first by freezing all Axis** assets in this country, and second, by ordering all German consulates closed down, also news agencies and travel bureaus.
Another order, barring the leaving of the United States of any German nationals until further notice, plus there would be a tightening of immigration permits.
America, President Roosevelt indicated, was going to be firm from now on with regard to fifth column activities and sabotage, and was going to see to it that it was known who was coming into the country under the guise of “refugee”.
Note: * By definition, “fifth columnist” is a member of a clandestine subversive organization who tries to help a potential invader. ** “Axis” Alliance included Germany, Italy and Japan.
Mick Charlie Spellman
1913 – 2006
Philanthropist, Mick Spellman, a Forney native, was born in the family ancestral home on June 30, 1913 and lived there all his life. His parents, Michael Spellman and Carrinas “Carrie” Huffines, moved from Wisconsin to Texas locating in Forney in the 1890s. Mick’s father was President of the 1st National Bank in Crandall, TX, 1902-1929, and Director of Farmers National Bank in Forney. His paternal grandparents, Thomas and Mary Nolan Spellman were both born in Ireland.
Mick graduated from Forney High School in 1931. He attended North Texas Agricultural College for two years and then transferred to the University of Texas at Austin where he graduated in 1935 with a degree in Business Administration. While at UTA he held the office of “Scribe” in the Delta Sigma Phi business fraternity. Immediately after graduation in June 1935, he was employed by the Southern Union (Gas) Company in Dallas and worked with them for forty-two years. During those years he took a three-year leave of absence to serve his country in the armed forces.
During WW II he served in the US Army Air Corps (1942 – 1945) with the 8th Air Depot Group. He liked to tell the story of his first tour of duty where he was sent to “icy, frozen, Alaska for months, and then sent across the Atlantic in the bottom of a boat to hot, sandy Northern Africa”. He commented that, “The next time, I crossed (the Atlantic) was as a civilian tourist in a super Concord”, the first of many pleasure trips he took to Europe with the Smithsonian Institute World Tour group. As enjoyable as those trips were, he was always happy to come back to his beloved home in Forney
Mick was a lifelong member of the First Presbyterian Church of Forney and served as their Treasurer for more than 45 years. He supported many area charities, giving them both his time and monetary donations. The Presbyterian Children’s Home was one of his favorite charities. He also belonged to the American Legion Post 591 for over fifty years.
A strong advocate for historical preservation, he took pride in maintaining his historic home built in 1897. He served on both the Forney Historic Preservation League and the Kaufman County Historical Commission. To further the cultural environment of the community, he supported many organizations in their effort to promote community development and civic improvement. The Forney Area Chamber of Commerce named Mick “Citizen of the Year” twice.
Mick died on August 21, 2006 at the age of 93. The legacy he left the people of Kaufman County will live on forever. His contributions to the county can be seen everywhere. You’ll find his name connected with many cultural and civic improvements in Forney and beyond. His generosity was boundless. With endowments to organizations from his estate,
The Spellman Museum of Forney History is under construction and will open in 2013, and a 5000 seat amphitheater opened earlier this year in Forney. He also donated money for parks and sports facilities to be built. The Friends of the Kaufman County Historical Commission also received a generous endowment from his estate to benefit the work of the Commission.
Surely there are many unsung heroes in the world, and Kaufman County is fortunate to have had one of its own in Mick Spellman.
Story abstracted from: Forney Messenger; Dallas Morning News; & Census Records