The Vigo County Historical Society on Thursday named long-standing community leader Marla Flowers to serve as the new executive director of the Vigo County History Center.
Marla Flowers, currently a project engineer for Garmong Construction Services and director of community engagement for the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce, will begin her new role Aug. 9, said Eric Parker, president of the society’s board.
Flowers said she is looking forward to the new role.
“I am beyond excited for this new journey and am committed to making this state-of-the-art museum a top destination for Terre Haute residents and visitors to our community. The new center is an incredible asset that provides a multitude of interactive opportunities to learn more about our community and how it has been shaped by the past,” said Flowers.
Flowers will begin her work at the history center on a part-time basis in order to wrap up duties at Garmong related to her work on the Terre Haute Convention Center project. She will move into the full-time role as the executive director of the History Center sometime in September.
Former executive directors Marylee Hagan and Susan Tingley have agreed to assist during this transition.
Flowers is not a newcomer to the historical society or the history center. She is a past president of the Vigo County Historical Society Board and was heavily involved in the renovation of the center’s new site at 929 Wabash Avenue in the historic Ehrmann Building.
“To be honest, walking through the museum feels like coming home. I am so excited about this opportunity,” she said.
Flowers added that assets such as the history center play an important part in building the quality of life in the community, something Flowers knows first-hand due to her work at the chamber in helping develop the “See You in Terre Haute 2025 Community Plan.”
Prior to joining Garmong and the Chamber, Flowers worked for Hulman & Company in a variety of roles spanning 37 years. Her responsibilities included managing a $40 million real estate portfolio which ranged from oil and timber production to retail shopping centers and rental properties. She also oversaw contract negotiations, budgeting, staff management and development of long-term operational strategies.
Earlier in her career at Hulman & Company/Clabber Girl, she led the renovation of a 40,000-square-foot warehouse space into a public event center, museum and bakeshop.
Fundraising to cover the costs of the massive renovation that was required to create the center will be Flowers’ first priority along with growing attendance and building other revenue streams, regularly revamping the museum’s displays to encourage repeat visitors, and enhancing awareness of the museum through marketing and public relations.
“This is a first-class museum with high-quality displays and programs featuring our vast collection of unique and distinctive items related to the history of Terre Haute and the Wabash Valley. To sustain this, we have to ensure that we have put a plan into place that provides the resources needed to operate a facility of this level,” said Flowers. She added that the History Center’s revenues have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I know that this will be challenging given today’s environment but I also know that this community always comes together to support things that are important. I am confident that the History Center’s future is a bright one and that the support we need will be realized,” said Flowers.
Flowers’ community service work is extensive and includes serving as president of the Terre Haute Chamber Board, co-chair of the area United Way campaign, champion (top fundraiser) of CHANCES for Youth’s Dancing with the Stars, board member for the United Way of the Wabash Valley, Indiana United Way and Miracle on 7th Street, and as a member of the Union Hospital Finance Committee. She was a member of the first cohort of the Wabash Valley Leadership Institute and has been honored with the Athena Award, the Junior Achievement Wabash Valley Business Person of the Year, and as a Wabash Valley Women of Influence.
The Vigo County History Center is currently open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $4 for youth, $6 for seniors, and $7 for adults.