As Tacoma has grown and changed, her souvenir items have promoted the current favorite. Along with many schools, parks, churches and hospitals, Tacoma’s keepsakes have featured St. Peter’s Church and bell tower, City Hall, Stadium Bowl, Union Station, Cheney Stadium and the Tacoma Dome.
"Tacoma is fortunate that many of her early landmarks still survive,” said Bill Baarsma, Tacoma Historical Society president. “Stadium High School will be available for another generation of Tacoma students to come, and Union Station is a working example of a community supporting historic preservation. Tacoma Historical Society is continuing that tradition by preserving and presenting artifacts such as the promotional materials created by Tacoma’s Booster Club in the early 1900s.”
However, not all of Tacoma’s landmarks have been as fortunate. Included in the exhibit will be seven storybook figures from the former Never Never Land in Point Defiance Park, one of three similar enchanted forest parks created by Vancouver’s Alfred Pettersen in the 1960s. After Never Never Land closed, the fiberglass figures were stored in the basement of the Pagoda at Point Defiance Park. Many were damaged or destroyed when the building suffered an arson fire in April of 2011. “We’re fortunate that a few of the figures were salvaged,” said Melissa McGinnis, historian for Metro Parks Tacoma. “We’re happy to loan them to Tacoma Historical Society so the public can once again view them.” The exhibit will also feature nearly two dozen Never Never Land souvenir banks and figurines from the personal collection of Kyle Smith, founder of Tacoma’s Smith-Western Company.
“As we prepared this exhibit we realized it was about much more than collecting plates and spoons and postcards,” said exhibit curator Deb Freedman. “It’s about preserving memories. Whether we are visiting or call Tacoma home, we take pictures and buy souvenirs to help us remember a person, a place, an experience. After that person or place is gone, the photos and memories are all we have.”