Thursday, June 23, 2005

Museuming
Lois Swanee
Museum Curator

College Avenue...museum building

If we were 102 years old, we would probably need a makeover too, and our Museum building on College Avenue is getting its face washed. I was thrilled when I saw it looking like new on the outside. The new bricks on the back look fantastic too and look like they have always been there. Sheet-rocking is going up inside and the whole building will be better than new when we move back, which will be in the not too distant future. We are planning on an elevator and an additional room for future expansion. We know that you will be curious as to the wonderful progress going on at the “old” museum but please, no curiosity seekers are invited to come to inspect the changes. It’s not ready for visitors just yet, as it’s still under construction. We’ll show it to you when it’s all finished and safe to see.

When the building was built in 1903 it was the new dormitory for the Presbyterian College already on the block.

When they built this building it was connected to a line of rooms connecting it to the magnificent antebellum home of Judge Watson, whose house dated back to 1840. I went to kindergarten there. It had 10 columns around the porch on two sides of the building. Judge Watson’s daughter started a boarding school for girls called the Maury Institute in her father’s house. (Commodore Maury was kin to Mrs. Watson; he was world-famous for mapping the oceans of the world. No one had done that before. They named the street after him.)

The connecting building between the Watson house and the 1903 building housed a parlor, which was a large elegant room with the south side a semicircle of windows. Also in this connection was a dining room and maybe a classroom or two and upstairs were more dormitory rooms. It connected to our building in the middle of our building, making a corridor that ran to the Watson House. In 1945 all this was torn down to make way for a new hospital. I have wondered why they didn’t place the hospital elsewhere.

In the rear of our Museum building used to be a great little auditorium built in 1903. It was built along with our Museum building and connected to another building in the back, that is still there. That rear building was built in 1910 and had in it an indoor swimming pool that is now covered up and used as the welfare office. Above there were 10 dormitory rooms.

When I was 5, I took “elocution” from Miss Pearl Strickland Badow and she had her recitals in the auditorium. Consequently, I remember standing on this stage wearing flannel pajamas, trying to remember my speech and holding a lighted candle in a holder. It’s a wonder I didn’t catch on fire or worse, burn the building down.

We have through the years really needed that little auditorium. When it was torn away, it left a raw inside wall on the outside and it’s amazing that it lasted 49 years. That wall was our trouble; it was beginning to crumble, as it was never built to withstand the weather.

Where our Museum stood was an antebellum house that was known as “The Hull House” as it belonged to Brodie Hull, who was the richest man in town. He was kin to the Crumps. The house had 16 columns around four sides of the house. It was moved to the back of the lot at the corner of Falconer and Randolph and used as part of the school system for teaching home economics. It was there until 1950 when they tore it away. There is a story about Mrs. Hull.

During the Civil War, Mrs. Hull’s daughter had a date with Edward Crump (whom she later married). He was a Confederate soldier, home on leave, when a “crier” (going through the streets, crying out the news) ran by saying, “The Yankees are coming!” Lt. Crump’s horse was hitched outside. Mrs. Hull said to him, “Just bring your horse into the parlor until the Yankees are gone.” So he did and the enemy didn’t know he was there. Imagine! A horse in the parlor!

The Hull House had a large five-room basement onto which the 1903 building was placed. We used it as a cellar. Now we will have new stairs going into it. However, it will still have a dirt floor, so it won’t be good for artifacts, but great for a furnace and air conditioner.

If any of you are Museum and county lovers, would you please continue to help us? If you have wonderful mementos, please give them to us and not to surrounding museums. They belong here. We are the “Keepers of the County’s Treasures.” Help and keep our Museum great! If any of you would like to join the Museum Society, the cost in dues is only $20 a year, made payable to “The Marshall County Museum,” 111 Van Dorn Avenue, Holly Springs, MS 38635. We are tax deductible, too.

Come visit our “Square Museum,” as it is something of which to be proud. Showing an interest in us helps too. We have a Mississippi Shop where we sell Mississippi souvenirs and Civil War memorabilia. All of the books are from here or written by somebody from here.

The Museum has many wonderful books for you. You can buy our Windows Series on the history of this place beginning with “The History of Holly Springs, Architectural Treasures with Suggestions from Her Kitchens” and “Holly Springs History and Her Culinary Delights” and “History of Southeastern Marshall County and Delicious Dishes of Days Gone By.” All of these have 300 different indigenous recipes on the back.

We are currently writing two more history books, one of north Marshall County and one of southwest Marshall County.

We also need information on your family stories and photographs.

Help us now and at the same time preserve your family history in print.


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