Community leaders mark Greencastle museum's 10th anniversary

September 12, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

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GREENCASTLE, Pa. - The Allison-Antrim Museum's usual focus on history turned introspective recently as community leaders celebrated the museum's 10th anniversary at a catered reception.

Several hundred people were invited to gather in the museum's barn that will soon become its future. The board of directors envisions museum exhibits filling various rooms of the barn, with other areas dedicated to genealogical research, children's education and meeting space.

"The focus of the Allison-Antrim Museum, and this goes back to the mission statement and why it was established, is to educate the Greencastle-Antrim community at large and anyone who enters its doors," said Bonnie Shockey, board president.


It began in 1994 with a meeting of residents at the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce.

"They decided to try to get the museum incorporated with the name Allison-Antrim," Shockey said.

The founders received their incorporation in 1995, then applied for 501(c)(3) status and received that in 1997.

"It wasn't until that time until they could go out officially and start seeking memberships," Shockey said.

The museum's first collection was accepted in October 1997. The paintings from the Walter Washington Smith collection portray scenes from the Greencastle area.

"That collection was stored at the Chamber, it was at the First National Bank. It was moved around wherever we could find the space," Shockey said.

In 1997, long-range planning called for the purchase of a property, and an anonymous $200,000 donation allowed the museum's directors to start searching for a permanent home.

At the suggestion of founding board member Red Pensinger, the museum purchased a home across from Greencastle-Antrim Middle School in April 1998. Quick renovations allowed the museum to open for Old Home Week that summer.

To create a space independent of the museum house, the board of directors purchased a mid-19th century German bank barn on U.S. 11 near Loop Road. The barn has been dismantled and reassembled behind the museum house, and its interior is being converted into a climate-controlled facility.

"We've been tasked with turning the barn from a barn into a museum," said Keven Walker, the project manager hired last December.

While the goal is to retain the look and feel of a barn, Walker is working with 21st century construction code and environmentally friendly building standards.

"We also are going to meet the most stringent museum collection care standards," Walker said.

According to Walker, everyone associated with the project has been diligently reconciling the needs of a modern facility with those of a historic structure.

"They're really putting their all into it," he said.

Collections should start being moved into the barn in the spring, Walker said.

"For the size of the museum, they've got a really solid exhibition that applies to local troops," said K.C. Kirkman, a historian who dressed in a Civil War uniform replication for the reception.

One of his favorite artifacts from the collection is an enlisted soldier's shirt with a bullet hole in it.

"They've got a real quality collection. They spare no expense," Kirkman said. "The barn is going to be a real top-notch exhibit space."

"For an organization this size, this is one of the more progressive and professional," board member Ted Alexander said.

"I'm probably the most proud of the way the people in the community have supported the museum. I think it's wonderful when someone comes to us and says, 'I have these things and I'd like them to stay in the community,'" board member Harry S. Myers said.

Shockey said the museum has especially been serving new Antrim Township residents who moved from out of town as well as young school teachers new to the area.

"One of the driving forces has been Bonnie Shockey. We wouldn't be here without Bonnie Shockey," Alexander said.

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