History Lost

editor@sierrastar.comSeptember 10, 2013 

After 11 years of operation the Wild Wonderful King Vintage Museum will close Sept. 30 due the lack of financial support and volunteers to keep it open.

"The Wild Wonderful Women and Friends, Inc. are very sad to announce we will be closing the museum on Sept. 30," said Toni Lagunoff, Wild Wonderful Women president. "This has been a very difficult decision for us, but despite numerous fund raisers, the museum was not able to make enough money to cover its expenses and the decision was made to close. I am heartbroken over this decision, but we no longer can go on."

It takes $5,000 a month to run the museum, including rent, payroll, insurance and other expenses.

"We have had a great eleven year run but, unfortunately it is time to close the doors of the museum and move on to other things,' said Joanne Hoover, an historical costumer with the Wild Wonderful Women (WWW) since 2000.

The Wild Wonderful Women and Friends were formed in 1999 with one of their goals to fund a vintage clothing museum. Alan and Barbara King of Ahwahnee had amassed a collection of vintage clothes dating from a pair of 1790s ballroom slippers to 1970s leisure suits.

The King's began their clothing collection in 1952 when Alan and his wife purchased two dresses from the Civil War era for $1 each in Venton, Iowa. The two dresses are still part of the collection at the museum. The collection now has more than 15,000 pieces of clothing and other historic items.

King said he had the most admiration for all the efforts, hard work, energy and money the Wild Wonderful Women have put into the museum over the past 11 years.

"It's really sickens me to see the museum go under," King said.

Military memorabilia in the museum collection will be donated to the Veterans Museum in Fresno and many items will be handled by an east coast auctioneer who specializes in museum items.

The Wild Wonderful Women will have a display and silent auction at the Fall Festival in October . Following that a going out of business sale will be held at the museum, 40680 Highway 41, in order to pay off some debts. All fixtures and part of the collection will be sold.

The WWW held numerous fundraisers including vintage fashion shows and club's Chocolate Festival, now part of the Fall Festival.

The organization opened the museum in 2002 with an exhibit featuring clothing and uniforms from America's war years, 1860 to 1945. Barbara King passed away shortly before the museum opened but she did plan the first exhibit. Other early exhibits included wedding dresses from the 1850s to the 1940s and The Little Black Dress.

By 2010 the museum had moved three times ending up at its present location on Highway 41. That was the year they brought the exhibit 'Abraham Lincoln: Self Made in America' to town, a traveling exhibit from the Lincoln Library in Illinois in honor of the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth.

Only four California museums received the exhibit and the King Vintage Museum got it because of Oakhurst's proximity Yosemite National Park. In 1864 Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant. With the help of the entire community, the museum was able to host dozens of schools and adult groups who visited the exhibit.

Since the Lincoln exhibit the museum has had a Ladies of Lincoln's Exhibit, Clothing of the Titanic Era, and The Roaring Twenties.

Recently the Jean Eaton Teddy Bear Museum of the Sierra was opened in part of the museum, featuring 1,200 stuffed bears.

In 2004, WWW and other non-profits opened Wonderful Treasures Thrift Store to raise money for their causes. Eventually WWW became sole owners of the thrift shop. Due to declining revenue, the thrift shop was sold in 2012.

For more information or to schedule a group tour before the museum closes, call (559) 658-6999.

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