A Brief History
by: Bob Price
Geologists, engineers, building contractors, geophysicists, independent oil operators, land men, bankers, attorneys, jewelers, doctors, secretaries, housewives, accountants, and many other business men and women epitomize the kaleidoscope of people who have reached beyond their educational training and job boundaries to extend both their talents and knowledge in founding and perpetuating the Midland Gem & Mineral Society. This organization was originally called, “The Midland Lapidary Group”, with the first meeting in May 1957 in the home of Aubrey and Jean Reid in Midland, Texas. On July 15, 1957 during a business meeting at the Air Park Art Center, the first officers were elected:
President: Stuart M. Sisley
Vice President: Al Mooney
Secretary-treasurer: Jean Reid
The Fourteeen founding members were:
George G. McNary
Aubrey V. Reid
Mrs. Aubrey V. (Jean) Reid
Stuart M. Sisley
In July 1958, The name was changed to Midland Gem & Mineral Society and the organization was incorporated September 1963. We were recognized as a 501(c) (3) organization effective May 23, 2002 by the Internal Revenue Service.
In early days, members with their own workshops shared with the other members. In Order to advance the opportunities of members to explore the expansive field of the lapidary arts, arrangements were made in November, 1962 to purchase Porter Rankin’s lapidary equipment to form the basic equipment for the organization’s first shop located in the basement of the Midland Mart Building (formerly the Crawford Hotel) in February 1963. The first class in lapidary was held in this shop beginning October 1963 with Frank Hawk, Midland jeweler, being the first instructor.
In February 1966, the shop was moved to 701 South Pecos Street. In September 1981, this building was sold by the owner, and since the organization was unable to locate an affordable alternate location, most equipment was placed in storage. During this time members again offered their won home facilities to continue classes.
A lot at 801 North Fort Worth Street was leased from Midland County in March 1983 and In April of that year a small house was purchased and moved to this location. After much dedication of time, talent, labor and their own money by many members, this small house became the shop that is being used today for all of our classes, exhibit area, library, and small meeting room. The backlog of members waiting to take classes in lapidary, faceting, silver-smithing, Venetian glass bead making, wire-wrapping and bead stringing indicated the inadequacy of our present facility to meet our members needs. Our old shop has served us well, but it is time to move forward into much needed, new, and expanded facilities. There is much work to be done on our new facilities but it is rewarding work and promised to enable us to better serve our community and members.
Funding for our operations, educational, and scholarship programs is derived primarily from our annual Gem and Mineral Show. After much planning and hard work, the first show was held November 2-3, 1963 at the Midland National Guard Armory. Long time Midland geologist Maylon Baker, served as its first chairman. Fifteen dealers presented materials for sale at this show. Annual shows, which included educational displays, a variety of lapidary demonstrations and special exhibits, continued at the armory through 1973, after which it became obvious we needed a larger space to put on our annual show.
In 1974 the annual show moved to the Midland County Exhibit Building. Our last Midland County Exhibit Building show location was held 2005. Due increased growth and demand we moved our Annual show to the Midland Center @ 105 N. Main Street – Midland, TX. in 2006. Despite the moves our shows continue to be held the first weekend of November in each year.
We currently work extensively with Midland area schools in education programs and with the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, Casa de Amigos, and the Arts Assembly of Midland. We are also pursuing increased outreach with the Boy Scouts of America, the kids College and the other programs at Midland College.