On April 1, the Fayette County Historical Museum opened for the beginning of its 42nd season.
The home at 517 Washington Ave. was originally built by Morris Sharp, the owner of a local bank and a farmer. The Fayette County Historical Society, founded in 1948, bought the home for $15,000 in 1958 and opened it to the public in October 1965.
There are local museums all over Ohio. The uniqueness of this, your museum, is that all the artifacts inside have something to do with Fayette County. From the people who lived here or visited here and their Victorian homes and cabins; to our three court houses; the courts; the inventors from our county and the items they invented that helped make life easier or safer all across our nation; to the artifacts we are collecting still today.
The Historical Society is a non-profit community entity. Income derived from memberships and donations go toward maintenance of the building.
The Historical Museum offers a tour of 14 rooms to explore, including the tower which gives visitors a birds-eye view of downtown Washington Court House.
The Board of Trustees
The museum is solely owned and operated by the Historical Society. The 12-member board of trustees meets monthly to discuss maintenance issues and to determine appropriate exhibits. Each November, the trustees host an annual meeting for the membership. A recap of the year’s finances and exhibits are discussed. In the last three years, the trustees have asked local high schools to suggest students who have an interest in local history to be student members of the board.
Several years ago, the trustees put together a Speaker’s Bureau consisting of half a dozen trustees and their areas of expertise covering subjects such as The Early Years of Fayette County; The Courthouse Riot; Fayette County Post Offices; The Cyclone; The History of Teas; or The History of Jefferson and Jasper Townships to name a few.
In recent years, the trustees have taken on environmental control. Monies were obtained from local sources (county commissioners, Travel and Tourism, Ohio Historical Connection, The Dayton Power and Light foundation) and used to refurbish all windows on all three floors. Just this past winter, one interior and three exterior doors were refurbished, giving the house an airtight atmosphere for all the antiques in the house. Through another grant, the trustees will be having air conditioning installed in the house. This means not only air-tight, but balanced humidity which is better for the clothes, paper and wood items in the house. The air conditioning will also be good for visitors and docents.
Every year, the trustees put together themed exhibits of what they hope will be interesting items from the museum’s many artifacts. This year, the museum will be displaying artifacts from WWI. April 6, 2017 will be the 100th anniversary of the United States entering the “War to End All Wars.” WWI artifacts will be on display as well as information about local heroes and a WWI fact sheet.
The History Trail
In the spring of 2015, the museum was asked to take over the task of maintaining the GEO Cache History Trail. It has been a huge success for the museum and for those intrepid hikers looking to solve a puzzle while gaining information on historic places in Fayette County. Those who have been on the trail have come from all over our country, which means the museum has been visited by people from all over our country.
Whatever the reason behind your visit: historic interest, looking for information regarding a family member, exposing children to what is was like “back then,” looking for photos of old classmates, GEO tracking, looking for a speaker for your club, wanting to become a docent, introducing your out-of-town guests to your local history, the museum can assist you.
Hours of operation are from 1-4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, from April through September. However, the museum is open when you need us to be open. If you need to visit through the week, please call 740-335-2953, leave a message and a trustee will return your call. Get to know your history!