Oldham County to celebrate re-opening of museum in January

The museum will offer new exhibits, monthly programs

LA GRANGE, Ky. (January 2017) – After closing its doors two years ago, the Peyton Samuel Head Family Museum will finally re-open on Saturday, Jan. 7. Promising new state-of-the-art exhibits, lighting, new programs and plenty of hands-on opportunities, the museum will be a showpiece on the Oldham County History Center campus.

Peyton Samuel Head Family Museum Re-opening Events

• Friday, Jan. 6: Peyton Samuel Head Family Museum re-opens for Members Only at 6 p.m. Music and appetizers to complement new exhibits.
• Saturday, Jan. 7: Peyton Samuel Head Family Museum re-opens to the public with a 10 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony.
• Sunday, Jan. 8: Beginning today, the museum will be open on Sundays.
• Sunday, Jan. 8: Feature Film Sunday. Every second and fourth Sunday, the Peyton Samuel Head Family Museum will feature a film from our collection that relates to Oldham County. The January film will honor a production by Oldham County native and filmmaker D.W. Griffith. Film begins at 1 p.m.
• Saturday, Jan. 14: Living Treasures Reception. 1 p.m. at the Rob Morris Educational Building. Reservations suggested. Free and open to the public. Light refreshments provided by The Project Guild of La Grange.
• Sunday, Jan. 15: The Artifacts Speak. Every first and third Sunday from 1-3 p.m. at the museum. A special program by a volunteer or demonstrator who will speak about the artifacts in the Historical Society’s collection. January meeting features Beverly Simpson, who made Mrs. Waide’s clothing for the Civil War display.
• Thursday, Jan. 26: Murder Mystery Dinner Show. Featuring “The Time Capsule Murder” to benefit the Campus Renovation Campaign. Performed by the Oldham County High School Drama Club at the John W. Black Community Center. Cocktails from 6-7:30 p.m. Dinner at 7:30 p.m. Cash bar. Tickets $60 per person. Reserve at (502) 222-0826.

“The museum renovation focuses on the accomplishments of Oldham Countians from a local to global level,” said Nancy Stearns Theiss, executive director of the Oldham County History Center.
New, updated exhibits will replace the existing ones, which have been in the museum since it opened in 1999. “The exhibits are really exciting in that they are going to better interpret our history and bring it to life with the addition of sound and videos,” said Terri Miller, Renovation Campaign Chair.
New museum exhibits will emphasize important people and their contributions to Oldham County. “As visitors enter, they will experience Oldham County as the first pioneers did by stepping onto a raft from the Ohio River and encountering Native Americans at Harmony Landing,” said Theiss.
“Visitors will be challenged to become Freedom Seekers on the Underground Railroad and meet abolitionists such as Henry Bibb, Elijah Marrs and Delia Webster. Our World War II veterans will be honored as well as the participants in our Living Treasures Program.”
There will be agricultural displays on some of Oldham County’s famous farms such as Ashbourne Farm and Hermitage. 
“The Kentucky State Reformatory has created a special display where visitors can “enter” a jail cell modeled from the cells at the Reformatory,” she said.
Also included are two theatres – the D. W. Griffith Theatre to view Griffith’s films from the early 20th Century and The Living Room where “home” movies that have been donated to the History Center are played. Included in the home movies will be clips from Oldham County High School football games from the 1960s, community celebrations from the past and family activities.
Interactive features include special hands-on activities for children, such as a special hide out on the Underground Railroad. Children and adults alike can practice weaving just as Hannah, a slave from Hermitage, did years ago.
When it re-opens, the museum will have Sunday hours from noon to 4 p.m. and charge admission. New museum Sunday programs include The Artifacts Speak. This program will be held every first and third Sunday of the month from 1-3 p.m. and feature a knowledgeable volunteer or demonstrator who will speak about a particular artifact from the Historical Society’s collection.
The first presenter will be Beverly Simpson on Sunday, Jan. 15. Simpson hand-stitched the clothing for the Civil War era display about Mrs. Waide, a local hotel proprietress.

Photo by Helen McKinney

The newly renovated Peyton Samuel Head Family Museum in La Grange, Ky., will re-open to much fanfare in January. A members-only day is planned followed by a public ribbon-cutting ceremony. It has been closed for renovation for two years.

Beginning on Jan. 8, Feature Film Sunday will take place every second and fourth Sunday at 1 p.m. A film from the History Center collections that relates to Oldham County will be shown. January’s film choice will honor a production by Oldham County native, D.W. Griffith.
Although the museum was first on the list, the entire campus is being renovated at a cost of $2 million.
“I am amazed at the donations we have received so far, especially from the individual donors who have already contributed and continue to support the campaign,” Miller said. “People have really gone above and beyond with their support of the campus renovation.”
Miller, who is also on the Board of Directors for the Historical Society, said,
“We continue to make requests for additional individual donations and grants, as well as seeking corporate support. One or two significant donors or grants could go a long way in finalizing our fundraising.”
Theiss said the campus renovation campaign was launched “to make the History Center campus more accessible and to update the infrastructures of the three historic buildings, the J. Chilton Barnett Archives and Library, the Peyton Samuel Head Museum and the Rob Morris Chapel Education Building. The museum and archives are on the National Historic Register and the archives received a special designation this past summer as a facility on the National Park Service National Under-ground Railroad Network to Freedom.”
“As more funds become available, we will be able complete the campus with paved walkways, lighting and plantings. We will also be making much needed repairs and improvements to the J.C. Barnett Library & Archives building and the Rob Morris Educational Building,” said Miller.
“The Oldham County Historical Society has raised $1.5 million dollars to date, and a major part of this money has gone toward the infrastructure and exhibit updates for the museum,” said Theiss. This includes new handicap accessibility features. An additional $400,000 needs to be raised.
In addition, the Oldham County Historical Society would like to “raise funds for a barn that would include a colonial fireplace of stone salvaged from the old Mallory Taylor Hospital and a statue that features a World War II veteran,” she said.
The goal for the new campus is to “make our Oldham County History Center an economic engine that will attract 22,000 visitors the first year. As a major attraction of the historic district in La Grange, we envision our center to engage people in the history of our county by having a personal encounter, not only the people from our past that have changed the world from a local to global level but to actually “feel” history through the preservation of the ‘place’ where we live and work.”
Theiss and the Oldham County Board of Directors encourage individuals, families and businesses to help reach this goal. since the History Center is a place for the entire community to enjoy. “We are all thrilled to be a part of the process and have enjoyed the opportunity to work with Encompass, our City of LaGrange and Oldham County Fiscal Court as well as the very generous donations from individuals to make it happen.”

• For more information, contact the Oldham County History Center at (502) 222-0826.

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