WELLSBURG - Visitors to the Wellsburg Applefest next weekend can get a sneak peek at the new Brooke County Museum and Cultural Center under construction.
While there's still work to be done, displays depicting an 1890s kitchen, dining room and bedroom, 1920s kitchen, one-room schoolhouse and many other aspects of the county's history have been created through the efforts of the museum board and a number of volunteers.
Ruby Greathouse, the board's secretary and unofficial curator, said the museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, during the Applefest only, to allow visitors to see the progress that has been made.
SLICE OFLIFE — Ruby Greathouse, unofficial curator for the Brooke County Museum and Cultural Center, is seen in a recreation of a 1920s kitchen that is one of many displays found at the museum’s new location at 704 Charles St. Visitors to the Wellsburg Applefest next weekend may visit the new museum, which is still in development, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. - Warren Scott
She stressed there's still more to do in renovating the former G.C. Murphy Store at 704 Charles St., which was purchased using a $90,000 grant from the West Virginia Division of History and Culture.
The building served last as a telemarketing call center, and the museum board decided that instead of gutting the 75 cubicles used by the telemarketers to make use of them.
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.
Greathouse said the approach and the additional space at the new location has allowed more related items to be displayed together. For example, visitors to the 1920s kitchen will find appliances, cooking utensils and furniture typical of that period.
The cubicles' half-walls have been covered with wallpaper or paneling reminiscent of that period selected by Mary Greathouse, Ruby's sister-in-law.
"We tried to set it up as though you could walk in and actually cook," said Ruby.
Ropes will prevent visitors from touching the artifacts, many of which are fragile, but the scenes and the openness of the displays provide visitors with a view not found at the museum's old location.
Counters taken from some of the cubicles also were used in the War Room at the museum's rear. The room is a collection of military uniforms, photos, books and other memorabilia dating from the Civil War to the present.
Another room showcases an assortment of glassware produced by many of the local glass factories that once operated in Brooke County.
A condition of the state grant received for the museum was that the location promote the arts also, and a corner has been reserved for musical performances. The audience will sit in several pews donated by Brooke Hills Free Methodist Church. Some of the pews also have been placed in the aisles between the displays to allow visitors to rest or sit down for a closer look.
The church, Franklin United Methodist Church and the Brooke Hills Park board also have supplied volunteers for the effort.
Members of the Brooke Hills Free Methodist Church youth group assisted in prepping the building for renovations in March. And the park board and Franklin United Methodist Church provided people and vehicles to move materials that were at the former museum at Sixth and Charles streets.
"Those folks worked like crazy that night. (Park board member) Cathy Hervey and her husband, Fred, made that happen," Greathouse said.
The Action Images photography studio also is aiding the museum by shooting smaller copies of the large class photos from the former Wellsburg High School it had accumulated over the years.
The Wellsburg High School Alumni Association is supplying special display racks that will allow them to be viewed easily while occupying less wall space. Like the racks used to display posters at department stores, the cases may be flipped from side to side, so visitors may find the class they are looking for.
Class photos for Bethany High School collected at the museum are smaller, while class photos for Follansbee High School can be found at the Follansbee Branch Library.
The family of the late Jim Smedley, who operated the Rock and Mineral Museum in a small building near his Hooverson Heights home, has donated his display cases as well as some samples of the rocks he collected.
Greathouse said the new site has provided some new additions also. While working on the building's second floor, board members discovered old signs and other items from the G.C. Murphy store. They now hang above a display at the front of the museum that includes old storecases filled with products once sold by the dime store.
Greathouse said the museum has been visited by passersby who noticed people working inside. Often they comment on having shopped at the store, which closed many years ago, she said.
Greathouse said something that makes the museum unique is that it reflects various aspects of life for Brooke County residents over the years, including home, work, school and church.
"I like to call it a life museum because we're showing all facets of their lives," she said.