Pa. museum to build its addition by the numbers

September 13, 2004|by DON AINES

GREENCASTLE, PA. - Behind the Allison-Antrim Museum are what appears to be several piles of rubble, but the jumble of stone will form the foundation of a new addition to the museum, its president said Sunday.

Hundreds of blocks of stone have been moved to 365 S. Ridge Ave. from the site of a mid-19th-century barn just south of Chambersburg, Pa. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the blocks, many identified by letter and number, will be reassembled adjacent to the 1860 house that holds its exhibits, according to Bonnie Shockey, president of the museum's board of directors.

"Some of these are monoliths," Shockey said, looking over the garden of hand-chiseled limestone blocks. Robert Grout, a mason from Fairfield, Pa., did the job of disassembling, photographing, numbering, cataloging and transporting the stone to the residential neighborhood.


Excavation at the new location will begin soon, according to Shockey, who said the project will be broken down into four phases. The timbers from the barn are now being refurbished by a Maryland company, she said.

The entire project will cost approximately $500,000 and Shockey said the museum has enough money to complete the first phase, which includes two climate-controlled storage rooms for the artifacts and documents chronicling the history of Greencastle, founded by John Allison, and Antrim Township.

When completed, the barn will house four storage rooms, an exhibit room and space for meetings and workshops, she said. The reconstruction process for the barn, Shockey said, will be "an educational experience for the whole area."

While Sept. 11 marks the anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed approximately 3,000 people at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa., the museum's current exhibit, "Heavy Metal," has an artifact marking an earlier milestone in American history.

A cast-iron stove made at Mont Alto (Pa.) Furnace commemorates the Sept. 13, 1814, battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor. Today is the 190th anniversary of the battle, which inspired Francis Scott Key to pen "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The ironworks, which included a furnace, forges, rolling mill and nail factory, was built prior to the war of 1812, but Shockey did not know what year the stove was manufactured.

Franklin County was a source of iron ore, limestone and wood, all necessary to the manufacture of iron in the 18th and 19th centuries, Shockey said. An army of woodcutters felled an acre of trees a day to produce the charcoal that fired the county's first ironworks near Mount Pleasant in 1783, according to exhibit literature.

The iron industry exhibit will be carried over into October, Shockey said. The museum will have another open house Thursday from noon to 3 p.m. and will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10.

Among the exhibits, visitors can see photographs of the couple who built the house that now is home to the museum. Shockey said the museum received an e-mail in the spring from a descendant of Alexander and Martha Irwin, who owned the town's first hardware store.

The descendant, from Omaha, Neb., also supplied photographs of the Irwins' children and in-laws, including Shady Grove, Pa., founder Melchi Snively, Shockey said.

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