We’re proud of our customer, Northwest Carriage Museum! This is their 20th year! They started with just 21 carriages and are now working on 63+. A worthwhile visit to this enchanting piece of history. Stop by and visit this “must see” museum. Time for a drive to the small town of Raymond, WA.
The theme of the symposium was “Roads, Rivers and Romanies” — Romanies being famed for their formerly nomadic lifestyles and the fabulously decorated horse-drawn wagons they once traveled and lived in.
Integrating his enthusiasm for the museum and our local area, Bowman’s presentation was titled “For the Love of Carriages and Community.” Bowman believes modern-day recreational vehicles in some ways mirror Romany traditions. He makes a connection between the theme of “carriages and community” and the splendors of antique-carriage collecting and riding.
It isn’t a surprise that the sense of community is built into Bowman’s presentation. The nationally recognized Northwest Carriage Museum is unique because it is in such a small town. In his symposium talk, Bowman tied the collection to its emphasis on the economic vitality of the community.
Many people don’t understand how the museum even got here, let alone how it continues to flourish. Its origins lie in the collecting passions of the late Gary Dennis, the entrepreneur responsible for the success of The Dennis Company hardware chain his family long operated. From that beginning, Jerry and his wife, Laurie Bowman, the museum’s executive director, made Raymond their home, the museum their passion, and the people who visit the museum their friends. This combination is rarely duplicated.
The museum “is endlessly interesting thanks to the design and display talents of Jerry and Laurie, as we appreciate their passion for sharing it with others. The way they showcase the carriage’s history and timeline in its broad social context … is marvelous,” said Gail Friedlander, museum patron and Raymond resident.
The Bowmans are proud that being an appealing destination means visitors potentially spend money on gas, groceries, small businesses and restaurants. Museum membership provides special deals at businesses that belong to the program. The membership is a relatively new collaboration to help the community make it through the pandemic and all the challenges it brings.
The audience at the CAA-sponsored symposium heard the romanticism in Bowman’s voice, relating a history that is larger than life. It is much the same factual information he presents on a museum tour.
There is awe for what Bowman conveys — awe from tourists and from community members who bring visiting family members — perhaps with their membership card in hand so they can shop at discount in the gift shop that features local art.
Most of all, Bowman’s tours focus on the people who once drove the carriages and rode in them when they were more than historical relics. These accounts make the carriages sparkle, flicker and provide a sense of relief that a piece of their history made it to this museum in this Pacific County town. Bowman makes the carriages and their history a romantic journey into the past.
In recognition of all this, the Bowmans recently received the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Willapa Harbor Chamber of Commerce. The chamber doesn’t choose a lifetime award on a yearly basis. It is only given on special occasions to the most deserving recipients.
“They work tirelessly to make the Carriage Museum a fun stop for locals and travelers” and are “constantly promoting Pacific County,” the person who nominated them said. “Jerry is a wonderful, informative tour guide.”
“Their promotion of the Carriage Museum and Pacific County has not gone unnoticed, and we are thrilled to honor them with this much deserving award,” the chamber said in a press release.
“We are so proud to be part of a wonderful community. Personally, we are overwhelmed with gratitude for the support and recognition, it means so much to us! We love where we live!” said Laurie Bowman.
This feature story was previously printed in the Senior Sunset Times.
If You Go:
Northwest Carriage Museum
Address: 314 Alder St, Raymond, WA 98577
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