Highland Museum To Re-Open During Maple Festival

Visitors to Highland County during the Maple Festival will learn plenty about our way of life now, but they can also learn about past ways of life as well. Lori Botkin, Executive Director of the Highland Historical Society and the Highland Museum explains how.

“The museum’s goal is to preserve Highlands history, so that future generations will know what’s happened around here, and some of the artifacts from the area. The museum’s getting ready to reopen the first weekend of Maple Festival which would be March 9th, and we have two new exhibits that will be opening. The first exhibit is going to be on some First Families. The First Family project – this is actually the fourth in a series of First Families. They started in 1743 was with the first group – this group is running from 1785 to 1795 – and it’s when they were documented as settling In this area. And if you go to our website, you’ll be able to see those families that are going to be focused on this time.

“The second exhibit is an introduction to the Jones-McCoy house, that’s over here in Monterey. If everybody’s noticed that they’ve been doing some remodeling there, they let us loan and have donated some of the items to the Museum, and they’ll be on display.

“Actually, this year at Maple Festival, we’ll have some living history, some reenactors on the grounds of the Museum that’ll be there.”

And where is the Museum?

“The M,useum is located right in beautiful downtown McDowell. Our hours are starting the first weekend of Maple Festival and we run through November 1st, and we’re open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, and on Sundays from 1:00 to 4:00 pm.”

And what are your duties there?

“Everything – from paying the bills, to cleaning the bathroom, setup exhibits, research. I’ve been amazed at the people that call in
from other places that are doing family researches. I believe everyone in the country has a connection to Highland County. I recently was       e-mailing a gentleman in Ireland that’s researching the Botkins, so that was really interesting. I think one of my big things right now is I’m recruiting docents.”


“That was a new word for me too, I had to look that one up too, so that’s why I wanted to explain that a docent is a volunteer, and that’s a special name that’s given to a volunteer at a museum. They man the desk, answer questions, run the bookstore. And if anybody’s interested in being a docent for the Museum, give me a call. Contact information – phone number is 540-396-4478; email is highlandhist@mgwnet.com. I do you have a Facebook page, it’s Highland County Museum and the website is www.highlandcountyhistory.com.

“I do have some future plans for the Historical Society – I was hoping with the one would be up and running by Maple Festival, but it’s not going to happen. I have planned a children’s room. I’ve noticed that sometimes when parents come in to look at the exhibits, the kids are bored. And so I have a room planned up where I found some interesting items that a lot of us use in everyday life, but some of these kids have never seen before, you know, like maybe an egg beater. And so I’m going to set up a room with some things that the kids can get their hands on.

“I’m wanting to do some workshops – especially one is dear to my heart is calligraphy. Handwriting isn’t taught as much in the schools anymore, and the past had beautiful handwriting and I’d like to do a calligraphy workshop, and show some of the letters and things that I have in my possession, and workshops for interesting things that can bring the past back to life.

“I really want the Museum and the Historical Society to have a voice in the county to preserve this past because I’m seeing so many things being forgotten, and we’re not interested in preserving the past”

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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