WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE — The Fayette County Historical Society recently completed renovations to the inside of its museum after receiving $100,000 through a capital improvement grant. The renovations included new wallpaper, paint, and floor coverings.
The Record-Herald sat down with Fayette County Historical Society board members Jeff Garringer and Bob Russell to discuss the recent renovations.
“We applied for the grant in February of last year and we asked for $150,000,” said Russell. “They ended up giving us $100,000, which we were very happy with because we can’t generate that kind of money on our own. The grant allowed us to renovate most of the upstairs rooms, two rooms downstairs, and we’re going to get a third room done after we close this year. In addition to that grant, Fayette County Travel & Tourism gave us a $5,000 grant in 2022 and another $5,000 grant in 2023 to help us with this project. There are things that the capital grant won’t cover, so anything that they won’t cover obviously has to come out of our pocket. We are very thankful that Fayette County Travel & Tourism jumped in to help.”
According to Russell, there is still around $10,000 worth of renovations that aren’t covered under either of the grants and will need to come out of the Fayette County Museum’s funds.
“We operate on a couple fundraisers, memberships, donations, and small grants. We don’t charge admission and never have charged admission. It’s your history, come and see it. We aren’t going to charge you to see your history. We do have a little donation pot by the door and people are nice enough to throw something in there every once in a while, but we just don’t generate enough money for big projects. We couldn’t have generated the $20,000 it took to have air conditioning installed a few years ago if it wasn’t for grants, let alone this project that was over $100,000.”
He spoke about the new wallpaper that was placed in several of the rooms.
“We hired a young lady who is a decorator, and she researched what types of wallpapers would have been used in 1875. She then went out and found us something similar. She gave the board members three choices in each room to choose from, and I think we did pretty well on the wallpapers. They look really nice.”
The renovations began in December of 2022 and the museum was able to open in July of this year.
“We still need to do the bathroom, we still need to do some work in the kitchen,” said Garringer. “We would like to do some work to the back porch and the gift shop, and then there are two rooms upstairs which were the servant’s quarters. That is our storage for the time being because we don’t have a storage building or anywhere to store things.”
The Fayette County Historical Society Museum, located at 517 Columbus Ave., will be open every Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 p.m. until Sept. 30.
“We are doing our best to preserve this building and the antiques inside,” said Russell. “We will have some other events throughout the year, including a cemetery tour at the end of the month. We always participate in that, and we will give talks if someone is interested in that as well. We’ve been open July and August this year, and in those two months we have had visitors from California, Vermont, Illinois, Tennessee, and Oregon. Obviously, they are in town for other reasons, but it was still neat to get visitors from all over the country. We try to make this museum a destination for people doing business or family research, and not just an old house for people to come and look at the antiques. We want this to be a destination.”