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Photo submitted by Stan Myers
(From left) Stan Myers, Hannah Groetecke and Heather Groetecke stand on the museum’s front porch, where Hannah is working on completing her Gold Award project as a Girl Scout Ambassador.
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Photo by Deborah Bethel
The Groetecke family works on the Old Six Mile Museum’s roof. Hannah Groetecke’s family owns Groetecke Roofing Inc. Heather and Donny, her parents, help on the roof.
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Photo by Deborah Bethel
Hannah Groetecke relaxes in a rocking chair on the museum’s front porch.
GRANITE CITY — After 13 years of moving up through the levels, Hannah Groetecke is working on her final project for the Gold Award, the highest achievement as a Girl Scout Ambassador.
The award encourages Girl Scouts to identify an issue in their area, challenging them to create a plan with teammates and other volunteers that will give back to the community and bring people together.
Groetecke, a senior at Granite City High School, chose to help out the Old Six Mile Museum, a historical landmark in Granite City. Built in 1837, the house-turned-museum has been through its share of weathering and aging, and was in dire need of a new roof.
“The roof had holes around 5 feet in length, and they were just patched up, which didn’t cover much through the years of storms,” Hannah’s mom, Heather Groetecke, said.
The Groeteckes own and operate a local roofing business, Groetecke Roofing Inc., which played a role in Hannah’s being able to complete her project.
“I had the connections and have been up on roofs with my parents since I was 5 or 6 years old, so the project just worked out great for me and for the museum,” Hannah said.
Indeed, the roofing project was just what the museum needed.
“The house was built in 1837, and the best we can figure is that the roof was most recently done in 1984,” volunteer Stan Myers said. “There were lots of patches and leaking causing major problems, and there were no funds to fix the roof because we’re a nonprofit museum; we sell what we grow in the garden but we use those profits for electricity, water, etc. I don’t know what we would’ve done if it weren’t for Hannah, the roof was in such grave condition.”
Hannah’s first idea for her Gold Award project, starting a compost pile, was turned down because of the difficulty and time it would take, seeing as the girls are limited to a year’s time to complete their project. It almost seems like destiny the project was rejected because a piece of the city’s history might have been lost if it weren’t for the Groeteckes.
“The Old Six Mile Museum is a gem in the rough,” Myers said. “Some volunteers will play music on the porch while we eat dinner and enjoy the breeze; it’s so tranquil. It’s a great sense of history and community in the area, and it would be such a shame for us to lose this jewel. Our prayers were answered when Hannah came to us with the Gold Award project.”
The five-day project was completed in mid-April, but there is still more work to be done. Hannah spoke of the need to work on the museum’s interior, where parts of the ceiling were ruined by leakage. Another crucial part of finishing the Gold Award project is to reach out to the community, which the three plan to do with a craft fair in the fall to raise funds for upkeep costs and more improvements, as well as celebrating the community with music, entertainment, food and house tours.
With hopes of it being approved by the school board, Hannah additionally aims to start an interest in the younger generations. In addition to the craft fair, the Groeteckes and Myers hope the museum will host field trips and help youths learn about gardening and local history, like it has in the past.
“I feel like the hard part is over, and now we just need to bring people in,” she said. “I’m going to make fliers to advertise the craft fair; not a lot of people know about this place so I’m hoping people of all ages will want to get involved.”
Through their involvement with the museum, Heather has been inspired by the volunteers and volunteering her time and efforts herself.
“The cost of this roof being done, if it would’ve been on the books, would’ve been around $12,000 to $15,000,” she said. “But you see people out here volunteering their time and it really makes you want to do the same for a good cause — it gets contagious when people do good things.”
These good things are what this team wants to keep doing throughout the community.
“Our town is getting lost; people talk about all of the bad in Granite City, but there’s good here that doesn’t get talked about,” Heather said. “Of course every town has their good and bad, but if you only hear about the bad then that’s what you’ll think of it. You’ll be surprised that when people hear about the good, there will be more good that starts to pop up — when we got the word out about the roof, people stopped by with monetary donations or volunteered their time to help clean up the roofing materials.”
Throughout the four-month project, the Groeteckes have learned a lot about the house’s history, Granite City and gardening. The museum has a greenhouse, free library, garden, beehive, and provides house tours, all for free. While the sign out front says the museum is open 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays, regular volunteers answer questions and host guests any time someone is working at the house.
For information, visit the museum at 3729 Maryville Road in Granite City or call (618) 877-1208. For information about the Gold Award, visit girlscouts.org/en/our-program/highest-awards/gold-award.html.