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Tiny treasures to be kept at iconic storefront

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Marifrank DaHarb, Senior Circle director, points to her favorite miniature box room from the Dunham collection. The miniature shows a German kitchen from the late 19th century. The box rooms below were made by Senior Circle members. (Christina Stock Photo)

If you mention the name Cobean’s to longtime Roswell residents, you get a big smile.

Memories come rushing in of picking out baptism cards and wedding stationery, buying an unusual book or your American and New Mexico flag for the office desk.
Cobean’s was established in 1916 and was open through 2010, when owner Leslie McPherson closed it. McPherson and his wife Ruth Cobean McPherson worked at the shop since the late ‘30s and became owners in 1943.
This year, the Roswell Interarts Organization stepped in to save the building and give it a new purpose.
This is not the first rescue project for the organization. Its most public involvement was in 2014 when RIO stepped up to save the historic Roswell Motor Supply building from being demolished. The Roswell Motor Supply is known today as The Hi-Q, an event venue.
Last year, RIO was actively involved in beautifying Reischman Park on Main Street, becoming a stage for musicians during the monthly First Friday Downtown Market and during the UFO Festival this year.
After an early summer fundraising effort, the Miniatures and Curious Collections Museum organizers raised $35,000 from the community to help purchase the former Cobean’s Stationery store at Fourth Street and North Richardson Avenue. With the added help of a loan from Pioneer Bank, the building will now be renovated — from the roof down.
Marifrank DaHarb, Senior Circle director, is one of the planners for the new project that will keep the legacy of Cobean’s alive. Plans are to have the Miniatures and Curious Collections Museum in the former shop.
Asked when the doors will open for the public, DaHarb said, “Not until next year, because the building needs work. They are going to do the floor, the Americans with Disabilities bathroom and then pretty much figure out what displays will go where, including a display honoring the Cobeans.

“It’s got quite a history in Roswell,” DaHarb said. “Nancy (Fleming) has asked me to work on that.”
The collection going inside the museum includes Jack and Lannie Dunham’s miniature models.
“We had them on display here (Senior Circle) and space was getting a little tight,” DaHarb said. “We knew Elaine (Howe) and Nancy (Fleming) were interested and so I said, ‘Why don’t you take these.’ I kept one, my favorite one, which was done in Germany. Jack was stationed in Germany and I guess they collected these items there. Lannie said that it’s so authentic you could cook on the stove.”
Another display is a miniature version of early Roswell and the area in the backroom of the Senior Circle. It is going to be moved to the new museum. The display was for the Convention & Civic Center.
“It was magnificent,” DaHarb said. “It had ferris wheels, a water tower, a lot of buildings, a school and a bar. They are awesome. We have already turned them over.”
In addition to some backers, MCCM is also looking for people with finished miniature houses or room boxes and curious collections for donation or loan.
“If you own an interesting collection of something, or save unusual things, we want to meet you,” Fleming said. “We are looking for collections that need a permanent home and ones that could be loaned for an exhibition. Just email us at email@roswellamoca.org and include a picture if you can.”
Historical information on the Los Pocos Locos miniature group in Roswell, and/or literature about miniatures in general, are also welcome.
“We think it’s important to honor the history of the building as we transform it into a very unique place for Roswell,” DaHarb said.
MCCM is still fundraising with the RIO, its parent nonprofit. People are invited to send donations to P.O. Box 2271, Roswell, NM 88202.
Christina Stock may be contacted at 622-7710, ext. 309, or at vision@rdrnews.com.