Major Upgrade

Oldham Co. History Center to undergo
$2 million renovation

Fiscal Court donated $100,000 toward
the capital campaign

LA GRANGE, Ky. (July 2015) – Upkeep can be expensive on an old house, but the memories that go with it are priceless. Much needed renovation plans are under way for the Peyton Samuel Head Family Museum, a circa 1840 home in the heart of La Grange.
The Oldham County Historical Society Board of Directors has been well aware for some time that many changes are needed for its campus, which consists of three historical buildings. The museum, once home to the Head family, dates to 1840 as does the house next to it. Known as the J.C. Barnett Libraries & Archives, it was once home to the Mount family, another prominent family in Oldham County.

Renditions courtesy of Encompass Develop Design & Construct LLC

The renovation plans for the Oldham County History Center campus is pictured above.

The third building on the property is the circa 1880 Rob Morris Educational Building, which was once a church attended by Rob Morris, founder of the Order of the Eastern Star. A fourth structure sits on the campus behind the museum, a root cellar, which is used for educational purposes.
It has been quite some time since these historic buildings were updated, internally and externally. Earlier this year, heavy rains caused water damage to the roof, which leaked into the upstairs of the museum where a very popular World War II exhibit had been on display since last year.
The display materials sustained minimal damage, but Executive Director Nancy Stearns Theiss knew they had to come down and be put away in storage. She also knew that the museum would have to close immediately for safety reasons. Long-term plans need to “include the update and maintenance of our three historic buildings as well,” Theiss said.
Additional needs include a new elevator, which will be very expensive, and lighting upgrades. The building is unsafe for visitors at this time, she said.

Renditions courtesy of Encompass Develop Design & Construct LLC

The renovation plans for the Peyton Samuel Head Family Museum is pictured above.

On Aug. 8, 2014, the Oldham County Historical Society launched a two-year campus renovation campaign to raise $2 million. Board members are depending heavily upon the generosity of private donors and grants to make this dream a reality.
“We need a fresh perspective,” said Bob Martin, Chairman for the Board of Directors. Board members seek to attract a younger crowd and get people interested and involved who don’t even know what exists in the midst of their own community.
The project recently got a boost in the form of $100,000 award by Oldham County Fiscal Court by a vote of 6-2. Oldham County Judge-Executive David Voegele supported the vote saying the History Center “adds a lot to the community.”
There are many items contained in archival storage at the History Center that cannot be displayed for lack of storage. Such items are gifts from generous individuals who want the community to share in their history and know about real people who made the county what it is today.
But the campus is not just a repository for things of the past. Theiss has conducted countless oral history interviews with local veterans as well as oral histories from Living Treasures, individuals from the community whom she profiles in a monthly column for The Oldham Era. Such projects and ongoing programming for all ages makes history accessible in many ways to many people.
“Understanding the past is inherent to our personal growth,” said Terri Miller, Chairperson for the Capital Campaign Committee. “The Oldham County History Center provides us with opportunities to learn how history is relevant to our future development.”
Miller is very optimistic the project will come to fruition within the two-year period. The committee has already raised $500,000 or a little more toward its goal, and the $100,000 was a major boost.
Local firm Encompass Develop Design & Construct LLC was chosen to implement the first phase of construction plans and costs for the project. “We chose Encompass because of their experience on design and implementation of visitor’s centers, museums, etc.,” said Theiss.
John Stewart, CEO and owner of Encompass, said, “We want to bring a newness and have the whole center interact with the environment.” His goal is to “be able to energize the community through family, friends and neighbors.”
The current concept for the campus includes painting the museum in muted red, white and blue tones. Since the property lies in the Historic District, certain guidelines are already set as to exterior renovation, Stewart said.
The new choice of paint colors “enhances the architectural detail of the building that you don’t automatically see,” Theiss said. Previously, the buildings have been painted yellow and are currently white with green trim.
The project calls for the addition of a children’s playground near the existing Colonial Garden, and new landscaping. On the latter endeavor, the History Center will partner with Paul Cappiello, executive director of Yew Dell Botanical Gardens in Crestwood.
“The three historic buildings on the one block campus of the Oldham County Historical Society are unique,” said Martin. “They should be protected and nurtured as the crown jewels of Oldham County’s history.”

• For more information or to make a donation contact the Oldham County History Center capital campaign, call (502) 222-0826 or visit: www.oldhamcountyhistoricalsociety.org. 

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