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Fortunate to have our history preservers

Most of you who know me, or have read very many of my column, know I’m appreciative of those who work to preserve our local history and culture.

I’ve often talked about how wonderful it is that we have museums, art galleries, public displays and more to showcase what has made our area special over the years.

Well, I have an admission to make. Up until this past week, I had never stepped foot inside the Brooke County Historical Museum and Culture Center. I’ve known of its existence for years, due in no small part to the efforts of Ruby Greathouse and others to promote it. I’ve known the general area where it was, although it has had a few homes since it first opened. I just had never been there.

Since I typically don’t cover much Brooke County news, my trips to Wellsburg usually involve visits with family or a stop at the county courthouse to take care of tax issues.

All this changed Thursday when I was asked to cover for another staff member and go to the museum for a picture. No doubt, you’ve already seen the picture and read the article as it appeared in our Saturday edition.

Walking in, you’re greeted by a small room, with shelves filled with memorabilia and knick-knacks of various shapes and size. It’s when you step into the next couple of rooms you begin to realize just how wonderful the place is.

Wellsburg, as you might know, has been known for its glass manufacturing. Multiple companies have called the city home, producing items that were then shipped around the world. Some of that influence still can be found in the area, although in much smaller quantities. Did you know the Brooke museum has an entire room dedicated to the glass companies and products which have been made here?

In another area, the room is sectioned off to deliniate the displays. There are spots for the local steel industry. There is an area recreating a doctor’s office. There’s one dedicated to law enforcement and a recreation of an old jail. There’s a section displaying items from various local civic organizations and clubs. There also are many items from the numerous schools, past and present, which have existed in Brooke County. There even is a collection of some yearbooks from some of the schools, and I was pleasantly surprised to find the one from my senior year at Brooke High, as well as the yearbooks from the senior years of both of my parents.

There’s a small stage area for presentations and shows, with a seating area comprised of old church pughs.

I also know I was no where near seeing even half of what was on available to see, and, as with any museum, not everything it has is on display. Ruby let me know they have plenty more in their collection, just not anywhere to place it at the moment.

The same is said of the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center, which has grown dramatically in its own right over the years, and works to preserve the history of Weirton and its people.

The Hancock County museum recreates the lifestyle of some of the area’s residents and highlights local businesses.

We truly are fortunate to have three unique museums in Hancock and Brooke counties. They each have different focuses on their work and collections. But, the mission is still the same, and it’s one we all should be grateful for.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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