The Historical Museum at St. Gertrude, located on the campus of the Monastery of St. Gertrude, holds collections of artifacts that tell the story of the Camas Prairie and surrounding areas including the history of the monastery, gold mining, the Nez Perce, and early settlement, as well as local characters such as Polly Bemis and Buckskin Bill.
A jewel in the museum’s collection is the Rhoades Emmanuel Memorial. This exquisite collection of Asian and European artifacts was donated in memory of Winifred Rhoades Emmanuel by her husband, Sam Emmanuel.
Sam Emmanuel was born in Turkey in 1902. His family moved to Seattle and he joined his father in the Oriental rug business. His love of Oriental art, particularly rugs, led him to write and lecture on the subjects.
Sam’s first wife, Jean Gerve Petit, was a Chinese art buyer for Gumps of San Francisco. Between her knowledge of Chinese art and his love for Oriental rugs, the couple accumulated a large collection of Asian and European artifacts. Jean in 1943. A couple of years later, Sam was working as a real estate broker and hosting a radio program called “Fireside Fantasies” when he met and married renowned organist Winifred Rhoades, who was a star on the show.
Winifred was born in 1908 and was raised at Denver, a small town on the Camas Prairie. A child prodigy, she learned to play the piano at an early age and became an organist during the silent movie era of the 1920s and 1930s, playing at theaters in Grangeville, Cottonwood and Lewiston, Idaho. At 17, she began to play the circuit of Pantages theaters in Spokane, Seattle and Tacoma. When the silent movies were replaced by “talkies,” Winifred continued to play concerts and special events throughout the Pacific Northwest.
After Winifred died in 1978, Sam searched for a location to establish a permanent memorial to her and their 32 years of marriage. He knew of her love for the Camas Prairie and offered the collection to the Benedictine sisters at the Monastery of St. Gertrude near Cottonwood. The memorial was dedicated in June, 1988, and includes items from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and European artifacts dating from the 18th century.
The Historical Museum at St. Gertrude is located on Keuterville Road, three miles west of Cottonwood. Hours are 9 am to 4:30 pm, Monday-Saturday. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for students. Children ages six and younger are admitted free. For information, 208-962-2054 or visit historicalmuseumatstgertrude.org.