Historic Westville is looking for new team members! If you love history, have a passion for service and you’re looking for a very different and exciting employment opportunity, you’ve found the right place. Below are all of the positions we are looking to fill!
We are still moving our historic buildings to the new site in Columbus, GA. Last week we moved the Kiser House (in two parts). The movers we use are the very same movers who first moved this building to Lumpkin. We thought you would enjoy some of the video and still shots from both moves.
One of the changes we will be implementing at Westville will be to break down barriers of physical space for a complete immersive experience. Visitors will be encouraged to go into the rooms of our houses, in most cases use the furniture…feel what it was like to sleep on a rope bed or a mattress filled with straw. Your curiosity will be sparked by what you see, smell, hear, touch, taste and think. Fun hands- on activities for the entire family facilitate enjoyable and memorable learning. Tactile experiences help visitors appreciate how the items were used over time and among cultures.
We plan on removing most, if not all, of the so-called “velvet ropes” allowing visitors to sit at the dining table, rifle through their desk, and pick up a book. As a result, we need to keep our collection in working order and looking like it would during the nineteenth century. This requires us to take a new approach to the care and preservation of our artifacts.
Many museums you are familiar with have preservation collections. Most of Westville’s collection is what we call an educational collection. A preservation collection is for display and preserving for future generations. An educational collection is one that can be handled and used as teaching devices. While Westville does have some items in the collection that are original to the houses and families and will remain a preservation collection, the majority of the collection has been donated with the understanding that they would be used to help teach what life was like in the 19th century.
Many of our artifacts are in need of extensive cleaning and repair in order for them to be used and enjoyed by you and your family. We have created a GoFundMe campaign to provide the funds enabling us to clean, restore, and for the upkeep of these artifacts for several years to come. Your donations will help us purchase much needed museum quality cleaning products and tools.
We will be working on the artifacts as funds become available, so we will be frequently updating our progress. We will post pictures, videos, and articles to showcase our progress on the GoFundMe page and on our social media.
Who doesn’t love a good mystery? Westville has never solved one of ours. Who painted the interesting ceiling of the Damascus Church and why?
We do know that once the building was no longer needed or used as a church it eventually ended up storing corn (it is reported to hold 10,000 bushels), and eventually hay until the 1960s.
When the building was moved to Westville in Lumpkin, detailed notes were taken of the needed conservation and restoration. Before and during the work, Westville undertook the task of trying to solve the mystery of the ceiling. While they were able to replicate colors, techniques, and find other similar examples, the trail of the painter and why it was painted had grown cold and will likely always remain a mystery.
Westville talks about our “houses,” making it easy to forget they were once homes.
One of the more interesting stories we have partially uncovered is the inhabitants of the Grimes House and how long the building appears to have been continuously lived in until it was donated to Westville.
In this first picture you see the house as it sat in Westville in Lumpkin.
Note the two young girls in 1850 costumes sitting on the fence gates as if they are swinging on the gates for a thrill ride.
In the second undated picture you can see a young child learning to ride his bike in the front lawn of the house before it was moved to Westville.
The clothing, car and bike are clues to when the picture might have been taken.
In this side view picture taken at the same time as the bike ride, you can see an enclosed addition to the house.
This kitchen was not moved with the house in order to restore it to its original appearance. We know that in the 1940s the connection between the house and the kitchen was an open porch. We know this because we were lucky enough to meet someone who lived in the house in the 40’s who came to Westville to reminisce. You can see her story here. Westville Visitor
In the two pictures below, you can see the Grimes House being readied to move to Lumpkin.
As we continue to move our historic buildings to the new site in Columbus, Historic Westville is assessing what we know about our structures. History is not just about what happened in the past, but is an ongoing process of challenging and exploring what we think we know. Our buildings are valuable resources used to fulfill our mission.
Our building files pose an interesting question: Do we really know what we think we know? In order to add pages to Historic Westville’s interpretive narrative, we must challenge what we have long held to be true. The process is oftentimes tedious, but the reward immeasurable as it teases out new perspectives and additional research avenues. The files contain information in varied forms, from typed and handwritten notes to pictures and drawings.
For everything the files tell us, there is much they do not tell us and that is where the detective work begins. The first step in understanding our buildings’ histories is establishing the towns in which they originally stood.
Their original physical location leads us to land and tax records that deliver rich legal and genealogical information. Oftentimes these records provide a window into the individual or families associated with the land and structures upon it by providing names, ages, literacy, place of birth, and even economic and military status. Land and tax records are oftentimes archived in town halls, county courthouses, local historical societies, as well as the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The information contained in the records can be cross-referenced with not only our building files, but more importantly, with census records to further substantiate what we believe to be true. Land and tax records are extremely helpful, but there are times when they are not available or we lack the ability to link a building to an exact location to make their use viable. Sometimes the only thing we have to work with is the current structure as it sits outside of time and space.
The methods and tools historians use to study the past are vast. The buildings themselves have a lot to tell us. Architectural stylings provide large-scale details such as a rough time frame of construction. Construction methods provide a relative dating scheme as technology is always advancing. Dendrochronology, a highly specialized dating science, is another fascinating way to confirm a building’s approximate construction date. Using samples taken from a wood structure, dendrochronologists examine tree ring growth patterns to establish the calendar year the wood was harvested.
Looking to the future, our ability to study the past will grow as the methods and technology continue to evolve and improve. However, future researchers will also confront new challenges that time and our preservation efforts at present create. Currently the majority of Historic Westville’s buildings are over a hundred and twenty years old. Time is destructive and buildings require restoration to secure their future. Each replaced beam, board, or nail removes a piece of information potentially available to future researchers. Yet, without replacing those very beams and pieces of wood there would eventually be no building left to study. Much like ourselves, future historians will continue to question what they think they know. The historical narrative is complex and ever changing. Every new discovery adds a new perspective, deepening our understanding of the past.
The doctor’s office was the second building to move onto Westville’s new site in Columbus. Once again our volunteer photographers and drone photographers were on hand to capture the building as it made it to our new site.
Below are a couple of shots of the doctor’s office in it’s original location before it was moved the first time to Lumpkin.
Here are two shots of the office being moved, one as it was moved to Lumpkin and the other as it was moved to Columbus. More buildings will be arriving soon.
Columbus Water Works (CWW) has been in communication with us regarding progress being made in the sewer line repair work taking place on the southern end of South Lumpkin Road. Earlier this week they made us aware, despite moving at all deliberate speed, they would be unable to complete the section of the road we need in time to make a move on May 1st. CWW has proactively explored alternatives for providing access however the width of the buildings precludes a move from taking place until work progresses further to the south end of the road.
This morning we received official notice from the Water Works that their earliest possible date for us to move the first building will be May 15th. We certainly understand this is an estimate and commend them for the effort they have put in so far. We will move the first building as soon as we can coordinate with all of the entities involved upon the Water Works project completion.
Meanwhile, Westville is continuing to prepare the new site, provide building footings and foundations, and prepare the buildings in Lumpkin for transport.
Westville wants to emphasize how extremely pleased we are with the commitment and extraordinary efforts of everyone involved in helping us get to Columbus.
Our new site is ready to receive the first building in Columbus, GA on May 1 if the weather cooperates. Thanks to Thayer -Bray for this great drone footage.
Our new location in Columbus is on South Lumpkin Road, and the Columbus Water Works has been repairing a 30” forced sewer main line where it failed at the roundabout. And then……the title to this story sums it up.
There was a second sewer line failure very near the entrance to our new site. Talk about timing! We were on schedule to move our first building the last week in March or the first week of April. Infrastructure repairs are a fact of life and if you have lived long enough and in enough places you have probably experienced the joy. This will delay the first building move but not the project. The Water Works knows timing is critical for us and will have three teams working to complete the repair by May 1 (weather permitting). This impacts our ability to move a building because in order for them to trench for the pipe in that particular location, space dictates they will have to put the dirt on top of the road. We will be able to continue work on the property, our construction vehicles will have access, but there will not be enough width to move a building.
Our team will be on the new site putting the footings in place for the buildings, and our movers will be getting more than one building ready to roll as soon as the road is open again. We are just thankful this nasty, stinky mess happened now before we hooked into the system.
Speaking of stinky, part of the ground work prep involves taking apart and filling in some old septic tanks. They may not have been in use recently but they continue to emit eau-de-stink.