Seal Beach Lions Club buys the Red Car Museum

The Red Car Museum has new owners. The lease for the land on which it stands will come before the City Council in the near future. Photo by Charles M. Kelly

The Seal Beach Lions now own the Red Car.

The Seal Beach Lions Club announced this week that the Seal Beach Lions Foundation had reached an agreement to buy the repurposed railroad car from the Seal Beach Historical Society/Red Car Museum. The contents were not included.

As previously reported, the Historical Society recent removed the contents from the local museum.

In an email, Scott Weir, first vice president of the Lions, wrote that the club paid $1,501 for the empty Red Car, the tracks, the deteriorated railroad crossing sign and some separate non-historical items. He cited the canvas bonnet as an example.

Late last year, the city government offered the Historical Society $10,000 for the Red Car.

“The Lions will submit FAQ around the Red Car soon,” Weir wrote.

“We who have been seeking change from the SBHS since last summer, have mixed feelings about the turnover of the Red Car to the Lions,” wrote Elizabeth Kane.

“We are happy to see it in the hands of a responsible organization, but at the same time, the issue of the leadership and future of the SBHS , community artifacts and archives remain a mystery and lost for now,” Kane wrote.

“We are looking forward to a future organization that will restore integrity, vision and leadership for our history for future generations to share and enjoy,” Kane wrote.

District One Councilman/Mayor Joe Kalmick said he was looking forward to seeing the Lions Club’s plan or the Red Car as the community moves forward. He also said the city was anxious to learn what the Lions would do to reacquire the returned artifacts of the Red Car Museum. He was referring to the Seal Beach Historical Society’s plans to return donated memorabilia to the Historical Society.

Background of sale

The Historical Society reached out to the Seal Beach Lions Club, according to a statement issued by the Lions. The Historical Society reportedly expressed their belief that the Lions would be good stewards of the Red Car and as such desired to sell the Red Car to the Seal Beach Lions Foundation. The Lions Club Board of Directors approved the sale and obtained an executed Bill of Sale effective Feb. 28.

The Red Car is an important part of Seal Beach history. As such, this vital historical resource will remain in the community. The Seal Beach Lions Club will be working with the city on the land lease and other agreement logistics. (The Red Car stands on city-owned land. The city recently canceled its $1 a year lease with the Historical Society.)

The Seal Beach deserves the long-term preservation of all the community’s historical resources, according to the Lions. Club officials said they look forward to working with both the community and the city to reach that end.

The Lions Club plans to assess the Red Car’s condition and continue restoration of the railroad crossing sign as first steps.