Frequently Asked Questions
Support History On The Block
What is the Jackson Hole Historical Society Museum and what does it do?
The Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum connects people to the unique cultural heritage of Jackson Hole. JHHSM preserves our rich history through education, research, and public programming that celebrates who we are.
JHHSM was founded in 1958, housed in three continuous masonry buildings on the corner of Glenwood and Deloney, right in the heart of Jackson. In the 1960’s, the Teton County Historical Society was started and eventually moved into a series of historic log cabins just down the road in the 1980s. The two organizations merged in 1989 to create one cohesive entity that continues to preserve the history of Jackson Hole today.
Now it’s time for history to find its home. We are asking our community to support our efforts to secure a Home For Our History. We are working to open a new campus on the historic Genevieve (Van Vleck) Block, creating a forever home for our organization and our collective Jackson Hole history.
How are you related to Save the Block?
We have been working closely with the Jackson Hole Land Trust to support their mission to save the Block, and our campaign builds on that work to help anchor this section of downtown by securing the funds needed to build a permanent home for JHHSM on the southeast corner of the Block.
How will your move to the Block impact our community?
Moving JHHSM to the new location anchors our downtown with a visible, engaging reminder of our collective identity and shared values, connecting locals and visitors alike to our unique history -- past, present, and future. Our vision for the new JHHSM home is a campus that consolidates our visitor facing and supporting services, providing exhibit and meeting space for our community, and offering a dynamic center to continue the core mission of our organization.
What is the next step for you and the other businesses on the Block?
Most of the businesses on the Block will be purchasing their current spaces, and we are doing the same. The Jackson Hole Land Trust has led on shaping an opportunity that protects the character and green space of the Genevieve Block while leveraging public support and private investment. The goal of our project supports the preservation of the Block by securing a section of it for our new campus, and we are seeking funds to purchase our lot and build our museum.
Why is this relevant to me and other residents?
The Jackson Hole Historical Society’s mission is to preserve and celebrate the unique history and heritage of Jackson. JHHSM houses nearly 50,000 objects, photographs, records, and oral histories that tell the story of our pioneer town across its 120 year existence, and we want to share them with you. Voting to secure funding for a permanent home for our organization will help forever safeguard those priceless artifacts. Who knows? Maybe one day our walls will tell YOUR story.
How do I help you reach your goal?
In order to reach our goal, the SPET ballot must pass by majority vote. To ensure that happens, we need you to vote YES to Proposition #8 on November 5 or absentee beginning September 26. For more information on voting, visit www.tetoncountywy.gov
How much do you need and what exactly will this money do?
We are seeking $4.4 million through the specific purpose excise tax (SPET) to purchase the land at the southeast corner of the Genevieve Block. This money will be matched with another $4.5 million, including proceeds from the sale of our current offices, to create a new, permanent home for JHHSM on the Genevieve Block.
In addition to land acquisition, the money will be used to physically relocate multiple historic buildings to the new campus, including JHHSM’s current log cabins on Mercill, move the Museum to the new location, transport the thousands of artifacts, and enhance the space to create an attractive, unified campus. The vision is to secure a permanent and functional space for the organization that embraces a new focus on public programming, historic preservation, and community engagement.
What is SPET, and how does it work?
SPET stands for Specific Purpose Excise Tax. Established by state statute, the SPET gives voters in each county an opportunity to provide funding for capital improvement projects in their own community.
Because of our tourism economy, visitors to Jackson Hole provide a significant portion of our local SPET funds, which are collected through a sales tax of one cent on the dollar. Teton County residents vote on SPET projects as funding becomes available. The number of projects approved on each SPET ballot has no effect on the amount of the tax, only the length of time before new projects get put up for vote. If no SPET proposals pass a vote, the tax ends once any existing voter-approved projects have been fully funded.
The SPET has been in place since the 1980s and provides approximately $10-12 million for capital improvements in Jackson Hole annually.
Why do you need a new home? Don’t you already have a museum?
The JHHSM will soon be forced to relocate, so this project will secure us a permanent and stable home. The JHHSM currently operates out of three properties located in downtown Jackson. Teton County is developing housing at 105 Mercill Avenue, the location of the JHHSM for the past 30 years. Rent for the property on North Cache, current site of the Museum, continues to increase at an unsustainable rate. And the original museum at 105 N. Glenwood is a long-term lease that does not have a modern heating system and is therefore only seasonal. The JHHSM does not own any land and for the past two years has been working to purchase property and consolidate into one primary space for all visitor-facing/constituent-oriented services. Without a home for this organization, our history will be lost.
You have a lot of new programming. What is your vision behind it?
Yes, we are investing in exciting new programming opportunities with the mission of further engaging with our community. Jackson is home to our shared identity, so it’s vital to our mission to educate our friends and neighbors about our collective heritage and create an open and inviting environment to celebrate the story of Jackson Hole. JHHSM is committed to staying relevant and ensuring sustainability well into the future; we are working on creating a space that brings the community together around the history we share and that inspires us.
How can you demonstrate that you can raise the money for the rest of the project?
Our organization is built on a celebration of the collective identity of the Jackson Hole community, and we believe that this community will answer the call to preserve that heritage by supporting us in finding a forever place in the heart of our town.
Practically, we believe that our organization is led by an incredible group of visionaries with deep roots here in Jackson. Our new executive director Morgan Jaouen and her team is investing in new programming and community engagement that has put JHHSM in a strong position to complete the fundraising necessary to match the SPET funding.
Who is your board and leadership? What do they bring to the table to safeguard the public interest?
JHHSM is led by executive director Morgan Jaouen, a passionate and knowledgeable historian and leader who has lived in the valley for 9+ years -- working a variety of jobs but always involved with the cultural resources of the Jackson Hole area. She is surrounded by a team of deeply rooted Jacksonites and local leaders who not only understand and feel the importance of authentic public interest, but who know how to effectively meet those needs to best serve their community.
The Board of Directors and Advisory Council comprises political leaders, prominent business leaders, foundational valley family representatives, seasoned educators, and deeply involved community members from all walks.
Each of these individuals deeply cares for and is invested in Jackson Hole. As a group, they represent a highly knowledgeable and experienced team of leaders who know how to reach a goal. Right now, that goal is to secure a new permanent Home For Our History on the Genevieve Block, and we are all dedicated to making that happen.