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Museum is memorial to country culture

October 17, 2000

Museum is memorial to country culture



By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer


Hunched over an old checker board propped up on a barrel, John Shank and Frank Artz, looked every bit the part of men whiling away a post-Civil War afternoon at the country store.

In reality the two men were just showing off some of the hundreds of items that will be on display when the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum opens up next month at the county Agriculture Education Center eight miles south of Hagerstown on Route 65.

After years of planning and fund-raising, the museum will finally open at 10 a.m. Nov. 21, said Jaime Dick, facilities coordinator for the county.

Construction on the museum and the attached Agriculture Education Center was completed in January, Dick said, and a dozen volunteers began acquiring and arranging exhibits in July.

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Three months later, the museum is taking shape with a replica country store and a Conestoga wagon anchoring the displays.

Artz lent the covered wagon, which dates back to about 1850. He speculates it was probably used to transport vegetables. The bright blue wagon bed and orange wheels are representative of how others from that time were painted, he said.

"It's been out on the roads around here. It was pulled by six horses - it's the forerunner of trucks," Artz said.

Shank, chairman of the Museum Committee, and Artz, a committee member, admit they have many hours of work still to come to set up a model kitchen, living room and bedroom circa 1900.

Farming equipment, including a grain harvester and corn planter, fill up the rear of the large, open museum.

Shank said the donations came by word-of-mouth.

"A lot of people have their own collections but have no place to show it," Artz said.

The materials are on loan from anywhere from six months to two years, so museum displays will rotate regularly. The only constant is the country store, filled with items on permanent loan from the Miller House.

Among the more than 2,000 items are glassware, a phonograph and a molasses barrel.

"All these towns around here had a store like this, and they had everything," Artz said.

Hours for the new museum and the admission price, if any, have not been set, Dick said.

One part-time employee and volunteers will run museum tours.

Anyone interested in volunteering at the museum or lending items can contact Dick at 301-791-3187.

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