Museum to unveil new look

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 5, 2000

Welcome to two of the newest rooms in the Lawrence County Museum – the 14-room historic Ironton home of Col.

Wednesday, April 05, 2000

Welcome to two of the newest rooms in the Lawrence County Museum – the 14-room historic Ironton home of Col. George N. Gray.

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Its renovation is now complete after 12 years of care from the Lawrence County Historical Society.

"Before, in the picture room here, there was less space and more of the pictures were in boxes," said Fondalene Alfrey, picking up a photo of the Hafle family from long ago.

"Now you just reach in the shelf and pull out what you want," said Mrs. Alfrey, the historical society’s exhibit co-chair.

Walk through the hall beside spaces where quilts will hang, then turn right toward Mrs. Gray’s bedroom.

The wooden floor has been resanded and refinished. Fresh paint covers the walls. An antique bed and the furniture that go with it look more at home in the restored surroundings.

The next doorway to the left opens into a new room at the museum – the military room.

"This used to be a storage room," Mrs. Alfrey said.

On permanent exhibit now are clippings, a flight suit, books, photographs and other memorabilia of famous World War I flying ace Col. W.C. Lambert of Ironton.

"We had all his possessions and we thought they needed to be displayed permanently," Mrs. Alfrey said. "This is a really new and exciting addition to the museum."

To celebrate such additions, and the completion of the museum’s renovation, the historical society will host a press conference Friday and a public open house Sunday.

Visitors can tour the house 1-5 p.m. The open house features a painting exhibit by the Ironton Artists Association and a quilt show.

The renovation has been an example of ongoing community effort, society members said.

Scores of people worked as hands-on volunteers at the museum. Hundreds more gave financial assistance through membership dues, donations and participation in fund-raising projects.

The museum began early in the 20th century as a dream. Wars, major floods and the Depression delayed the dream, but it began to unfold in 1988 with the historical society’s purchase of the Gray home at 506 S. Sixth St.

The museum opened in December that year, with only two rooms ready – the beginning of the society’s mission to renovate all 14 rooms.

Society member Vera Billing said the work has been worth it.

"I wasn’t here when it started but it’s just wonderful," she said.

It’s wonderful to see how beautiful it is to show people their history."

Some other features of the new renovations include:

– An "accessory tree" in the clothing exhibit room, featuring gloves, pearls and other items worn with clothes from specific historic eras.

– Period and restored light fixtures in some rooms.

– A portrait of Col. Gray donated last year by his great-great granddaughter, Caroline Stevens.

For more information about the museum, or for hours of operation, call 532-1222.