The brand new Surgoinsville Area Archive and Museum may never truly be finished as new additions are always being loaned or donated.
Case in point, during Monday’s Board of Directors meeting Raymond Lindsey submitted a pair of black dress shoes worn by local teacher Hazel Wolfe more than 60 years ago.
Museum board member Teresa Greer had been looking for a vintage pair of woman’s shoes to put the museum’s “widow” mannequin in the Civil War display.
Teresa Greer was delighted with the donation. Hazel Wolfe was her second grade teacher.
“I was scared to death of her in those,” Greer said.
Although they continue to tweak the museum, Board chairman Johnny Greer (Teresa’s husband) said Monday he believes they’re close enough to have a “soft opening”.
The Board voted unanimously to open the museum to the public on Saturday, Nov. 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The museum is located in the basement of the Surgoinsville Public Library, 120 Old Stage Road.
“I don’t think it will be complete (by Nov. 20) but a lot of people are wanting to get in here and see this place,” Johnny Greer told the Board Monday.
Teresa Greer added, “I’m afraid if we don’t go ahead and open, it will interfere with our grant. We’ve got to be able to say that we’re open.”
Permanent open hours will likely be established beginning in January. The museum will be applying for a grant that is due on Nov. 30 that requires them to be open 150 days per year, so the most likely scenario is for the museum to be open three days per week.
The museum was designed with the assistance of retired Marine Capt. Charlie Grow, who is the former curator of the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Va.
A Surgoinsville native, Grow moved back home after his retirement from the military.
The the untrained eye the museum may look finished but there are a few details that need to be taken care of before the Nov. 20 opening.
Johnny Greer said there is a backlog of exhibit descriptions still to be printed, and only two of four planned TVs have been installed. The TVs will show photos on a loop related to the subject of the section they’re displayed.
The museum has several sections that cover a variety of topics. There’s a quilting section, a music section, a section dedicated to the Great Depression, one dedicated to the Civil War, local businesses, churches, pioneer life, tobacco farming, local veterans, schools and education, and life on the Holston River.
The biggest attraction is the Native American section featuring hundreds of arrowheads, tools, weapons, and other artifacts discovered by local relic hunter Ural Ward.
“I think a lot of people are going to come that first day,” Johnny Greer told the Board. “It’s going to take a bit of a team effort to get things up to par.”
Greer added, “I just hope somebody don’t come in disappointed because they don’t see their dad or mom or something like that. It’s because we don’t have the pictures. That’s the reason they’re not on there.”
Johnny Greer said the museum is still looking for contributions of historic items pertaining to Surgoinsville, Hawkins County and the region.
For example, on Monday they mentioned that they’re looking for various military uniforms and uniform accessories.
Anyone interested in making a contribution can call Johnny Greer at 423-335-5718.