Bath Historical Society New Addition opening part One

AMR recently spoke with some one who knows, in the history of annual, or seasonal, community events this one has been twenty-five years in the making.

     “My name is Richard Armstrong and I am president of the Bath County Historical Society.”

On  Saturday, May 11th from 2 until five in the afternoon the Historical Society invites the whole community to visit their new addition.

“How will this added capacity help the Society in a few different ways?”

“The addition recently completed on the Historical Society will aid us greatly in giving us new storage space for our collections. It will also give us a space to where we can have a meeting, a workshop, some kind of a program; we have the space to do it in house now.  And we can also have this available to interested parties that wish to have a conference or a meeting, and need space, because that’s one of the issues in our community, and we would make this space available for a small fee.”

The room is is light-filled, and high-ceilinged, and from the exterior blends with the original structure and surrounding village.  While eventually it will contain display cases, for now it’s welcoming repeat and new visitors to the museum.  There will be tours of the whole building going on that afternoon too.

Mr. Armstrong continued.

“We have a few large items in there, musical instruments. There’s not going to be a whole lot more of large items going in there.”

Below the new meeting room is the meat and potatoes of any Historical Society, the archives and the vault.  Large shelves catalog centuries worth of pieces of history that might be lost if not collected and preserved all in one place. The majority of the collection has been donated because an item belonged to a Bath County family, or was found in Bath County.  Yet in order to present as full a  picture as possible of local history, the museum remains open to a variety of gifts.

“Some of them are indicative of the periods that they represent, not necessarily having been owned by a Bath Countian, but they represent a very important era in Bath County’s history.  We try to focus on getting things that are native to the county, but when we cannot, we do a generic item.”

He also offered a brief summary of the history of the building itself..

“The older part of the museum is originally an 1875 law office, and it was moved here from the Warm Springs Inn area in the early 1900s when the courthouse was established in this community.  In 1982 Elaine Madlener purchased the building, and donated it as the headquarters for the Bath County Historical Society.  That was our core founding.  In 1994, we added an addition of two levels onto the building, and twenty-five years later we are now opening our second addition to the building.”

Again, the whole community is invited to the opening reception with refreshments

provided by Bath County High School Culinary Arts class, and an oral history video display by produced by video arts students.

Rick Armstrong also said,

“I would like to get word out to all of our general public in Bath and Highland and Pocahontas and all the surrounding areas, that the Bath County Historical Society is here for you.  It is not a social club, it is not a members only type thing.  It is open free to the public.  During the summer it is open Wednesday through Saturday 10-4, and other times by appointment.”

To make that appointment, or to ask a question about local history, call 839-2543.

While artifacts, and museum pieces may be front and center, the public is always encouraged to dig deep, and learn more about any historical event, and most often, family history.  In part two of this pair of stories Rick Armstrong talks a little more about the role of a local Historical Society, and touches on his lifelong commitment to history, and preserving it for future generations.

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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