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City buys Fairlawn collection

It's a done deal. Nearly two years after the Superior City Council directed the city attorney to come up with a solution to lease or buy artifacts owned by the Douglas County Historical Society on display at Fairlawn Mansion, the council Tuesday ...

It's a done deal.

Nearly two years after the Superior City Council directed the city attorney to come up with a solution to lease or buy artifacts owned by the Douglas County Historical Society on display at Fairlawn Mansion, the council Tuesday approved purchasing most of those items under terms the city and historical society can both live with.

Sharon Kotter, the society's executive vice president, said the DCHS board had previously approved the agreement that would turn ownership of most of the artifacts on display in the mansion over the city, which owns Fairlawn Mansion.

The council agreed to pay $140,000 for the collection.

Councilors Warren Bender and Mick McKenzie who serve on the historical society board, and Dan Olson, a member of the museum board that operates Fairlawn, abstained from voting on the issue that benefits both organizations.

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The city won't be purchasing the entire collection -- appraised at $221,000 -- but will be buying most of it, Kotter said.

The city entered into the negotiations after the historical society sought a written lease that would outline responsibility for the collection in the event something went wrong. While the city made annual payments to the organization for a decade, a written lease was only in place for one year of those 10.

In November, the council authorized the city to double its lease payment and continue negotiating an agreement after the historical society rejected the city's offer of $125,000 for the artifacts and threatened to begin removing items because an agreement could not be reached.

Then, society president Valerie Burke said the board believed it was the city's final offer and a resolution of the matter couldn't be attained, prompting her to notify the city of the organization's intent.

The council's decision to continue negotiations stayed any action by the historical society, which stated the artifacts should stay with the mansion. Descendants of the mansion's original owners, Martin and Grace Pattison, donated the family's heirlooms to the Douglas County Historical Society.

"This is a great day," said Councilor Nick Milroy. He said he is glad the city and historical society finally reached an agreement because the historically renovated mansion is such an asset to the city.

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