History Center to open Aug. 1
LA GRANGE, Ky. It's yellow.
That's the first thing you notice about Oldham County's new History
Center, a Victorian house that sits across Second Avenue from the courthouse.
by Don Ward
Though yellow may seem an unusual color for a museum,
officials believe the outer walls will pale in comparison to the offerings
awaiting inside for visitors.
After years of planning and many months of renovation, the $1 million
History Center will open Aug. 1, amid much fanfare. A dedication ceremony
is scheduled, including a 1:30 p.m. ribbon cutting and a free weekend
of visitation for guests. After that, the entry fee to the new museum
will be $4 for adults, but remain free to the Historical Society's 242
members. Children ages six to 18 and seniors will be admitted for $3.
"The idea of the center is to serve as the official depository
of county public and historical records," said director Patricia
Michael. "But we also wanted an interactive place where people
could come to do research and view original county documents."
The Historical Society's existing office next door will continue to
serve as the library, archives and headquarters, said Michael, who was
hired in October 1995.
Formed in 1959, the society joined forces with the county in 1991 to
pursue a mandate to preserve county records. Then-mayor of La Grange,
John Black, supported the effort from the start. Since becoming judge-executive,
he has continued to back the project and is expected to take part in
Oldham County Fiscal Court has contributed $30,000 toward the renovation,
which has been coordinated by local architectural designer Bill Lammlein.
The rest of the money has been received through private donations, in
large part from the Peyton Samuel Head family trust.
"It's been a full-time job for me for about 15 months," Lammlein
said. "I consider it an important project a way to preserve
the county's heritage."
Lammlien, a former society board member, resigned his post when he was
named to head the project to avoid any conflicts of interest. His objective
has been to restore the building's structure to its original 1920 appearance.
The inside of the house will be converted into a contemporary museum
by a New York-based museum design company, as opposed to a "historic
house museum," which would entail filling the building with period
"We didn't want to have to go out and find authentic pieces to
decorate it," Michael said. "Instead, we wanted an interactive
learning center-type atmosphere. The idea is to get a sense of the past
but with current value and activities. It's a living thing."
The museum will house an interactive, fiber-optic map of Oldham County,
plus a working model of the Interurban Electric Railroad that ran from
Louisville to La Grange between 1907 and 1935. Several local people
recorded information and anecdotes on the handsets to be used by museum
Outside, there will be three sculptures, also to be unveiled Aug. 1.
In addition, a $25-a-plate dinner is planned for July 30 at the Oldham
County Community Center. The featured speaker is James C. Klotter, author
of the book, "New History of Kentucky." The 7 p.m. dinner
is open to the public.
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