Opening of Brooke Museum to be celebrated Saturday

WELLSBURG – The Brooke County Museum and Cultural Center will celebrate the opening of its new location at 704 Charles St. with a ribbon cutting and open house from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.

The first of a series of a monthly special events planned for the museum, it will focus on the glass industry that once was prominent in Wellsburg and neighboring communities, said Ruby Greathouse, secretary of the museum board and the museum’s unofficial curator.

Greathouse said a special guest will be George Leonard of Worthington, Ohio, a descendant of Isaac P. Duvall, who in 1813 built the first glass factory in Wellsburg and also the first in what would later become West Virginia.

In light of that distinction, a representative of the West Virginia State Glass Museum is expected to attend the opening.

Leonard has lent five glass pieces produced by Duvall Glass for temporary display at the museum, which had secured a variety of glasswork produced by many of the county’s former glassmakers, but no examples of Duvall, Greathouse said. One of more than 45 glassmakers that once operated in Brooke County, Duvall produced cobalt blue, amber, green and clear glass, she noted.

Leonard also is lending a picture of Isaac H. Duvall, son of Isaac P. Duvall and a general in the Union Army during the Civil War.

Randall Reid-Smith, state commissioner of culture and history, also has been invited to participate.

Reid-Smith helped the museum to secure a $90,000 state grant to purchase the former G.C. Murphy building. Occupied by a dime store for many years, the building was last used by a telemarketing firm. Volunteers with the museum decided to use the cubicles created for the telemarketers as dividers for the museum’s various exhibits.

They removed partitions that divided the cubicles to establish 8-by-12-foot display areas, many of them serving as recreations of kitchens, dining rooms and other scenes from bygone days.

The many scenes include an 1890s kitchen, dining room and bedroom, 1920s kitchen and one-room schoolhouse, with wallpaper lining the cubicle’s half-walls selected to match each period.

Reid-Smith also suggested the museum expand its name and scope to include cultural events, such as musical performances and art exhibits.

In keeping with that mission, there are plans for the museum to host an art exhibit featuring work by Brooke High School art students in May.

Greathouse noted this year marks West Virginia’s 150th birthday, and in keeping with that, the museum will be among West Virginia sites to host a traveling exhibit depicting the Civil War’s role in the state’s creation.

It will be the first time, at least in recent years, the museum has hosted such an exhibit, she noted.

Greathouse said the museum’s military room has been expanded to keep up with the items that have been donated.

The museum’s regular hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays, with other dates available by calling (304) 737-4060. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.

(Scott can be contacted at