The Ellis County Historical Society will reopen to the public on Monday after the office closed in late March due to state guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.


ECHS will see the public and conduct tours by appointment only. The office relocated to 1111 East 30th Street in July 2019 after a mold problem forced the closure of the gallery and Stone Church located at 100 W. Seventh.


Available for tours at 100 W. Seventh are the Volga German Haus, Fire Department Museum and the Harness Shop. Staff can assist with historical research using archives available at the office. ECHS staff has been working remotely since the office was closed.


Opening to the public by appointment only will assist staff in maintaining safety measures as well as ensuring staff will be available for tours.


ECHS interim director Katie Annett, who replaced Lee Dobratz, who resigned in April, talked to staff from the Hays Public Library and Sternberg Museum of Natural History and conducted research online about how other museums were proceeding.


“That’s what we figured out was best for us,” said Annett, who was a curatorial assistant before becoming interim director. “Other organizations that are bigger than us aren’t doing it, but since it’s just (two staff members) we thought we wouldn’t have multiple groups of visitors there at the same time.”


Limiting public interaction by appointment only also allows staff to clean surfaces between visits and ensures staff availability for tours. Added safety measures planned for the office include plexiglass barrier shields and reorganized desks for social distancing.


“I’m especially concerned … a lot of our visitors are elderly,” Annett said. “I didn’t want to jump into anything without taking those precautions. I want to make it as safe as possible for them.”


ECHS will require archives visitors to wash their hands prior to entry and strongly encourages visitors to wear face coverings.


ECHS will require archives visitors to wash their hands prior to entry and strongly encourages visitors to wear face coverings. ECHS staff will wear face coverings when meeting the public. The ECHS office is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.


To schedule an appointment contact ECHS by email at director@echshays.org or call 785-628-2624. For updates call or email or check the ECHS Facebook page. You can also find ECHS on Instagram.