Burglary also part of Frisco historic park arson case
Summit Daily News
After declaring Sunday morning’s fire at the Frisco Historic Park Museum’s Ruth House a suspected arson, Frisco police are now reporting several historical items were discovered missing from the building during the following investigation. Authorities believe the burglary may be connected to the initial crime.
While museum manager Simone Belz said she can’t release the exact identities of the missing items because of the ongoing police investigation, she did say there were some high-end vintage furs – probably from the early 1900s – found missing. More women’s clothing items, jewelry and other artifacts are also gone.
“Everything in the building was part of women’s history here in Frisco, or were representational of depicting the stories of who those women were,” Belz said. “Most of our entire fur collection was in that building.”
The Ruth House has two floors; Belz said almost everything on the second floor was either stolen or lost to the fire, except for one pair of shoes. Belz said among the upstairs items there were several furnishings, a large hat collection, and lady’s accessories like parasols, gloves and hat pins.
Belz said she does have some similar items in storage to replace damaged goods for future exhibit.
Firefighters did their best to minimize water damage and had pulled mostly everything out from the downstairs by the time Belz reached the scene early Sunday morning, saving 50-75 percent of the collection; some artifacts need restoration and cleaning. Items included a spinning wheel, traveling trunks, a large chrome stove and a few of the display cases.
Belz said theft and arson are the two most devastating things that can happen in a museum since her mission is to preserve items.
“It’s very hard to deal with because it was deliberate,” she said.
The Ruth House was built in 1890 as a barn and was later turned into a residence. Sunday’s fire damaged the building interior and roof, but the exterior frame of the building remains in good condition. Belz said the town is currently waiting for estimates for restoration and the insurance company to give them the green light to proceed. Because the structure is insured as a historic building, they are allowed to reinstate the house exactly as it was before the fire. Belz said the town hopes to begin work as early as next month, and reopen the building before the end of the year. The unaffected portion of the park will remain open during normal hours as maintenance continues.
Frisco Police Department detective Julie Polly said they do have some leads in the investigation from on-scene and citizen reports. She encourages anyone with information to come forward, and said even the smallest details are significant.
“A lot of people are saddened by this,” Polly said.
Frisco Police are also looking for a good samaritan that assisted with putting out the fire at the Ruth House on Sunday morning with a fire extinguisher. The police would like to get a statement from this witness and ask that they please come forward as soon as possible. This person is not a suspect in the crime.
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