Arts & Entertainment

Historical museum gets upgrade with new, yet really old flooring

The East Benton County Historical Museum has enhanced its entryway by adding more petrified wood flooring.

The petrified wood flooring was originally made by the late Gordon Maxey, who died in 1964. Maxey had collected the ancient wood since 1945. He used the wood for flooring in his Kennewick home.

After Maxey's wife died in 1974 the flooring came into the possession of Max McKeown, said museum director Corene Hulse.

"(McKeown) wanted it to be where people could enjoy it," Hulse said.

So he began the fundraiser to build the museum, which came to pass in 1982. The entire petrified wood flooring collection wasn't used when the museum was first built and has been in storage for more than two decades, Hulse added.

"Thanks to some individual East Benton County Historical Society members we were able to finish installing the (floor) in January," she said.

Pieces of the ancient wood flooring were collected by Maxey from sites in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona and Nevada. The petrified wood was cut into 29-inch squares and patterned into flooring with marble dust used for mortar.

"At one time, Mrs. Maxey was offered $1 million for the floor," Hulse said.

The museum is open from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission is $4 for adults, $2 for senior citizens, $1 for ages 5-17. Active military personnel are free. For more information, call 582-7704.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;