Preservation

A publisher listens

She grew up in rural Blount County, neither deprived nor privileged. She earned a college degree, taught school, traveled through many states, lived in several.

Now retired, she’s back in this county, her favorite place to be, whose people and small towns, countrysides and farms, schools and churches she cherishes.

That being so, she’s dedicated to preserving the county’s history as reflected in old documents, photographs, books, antiques, whatever helps to tell the county’s story.

She sees the Blount County Memorial Museum in the county seat as the logical site to make these collected treasures available to the public. Many people must agree, as more and more are submitting appropriate items, and more and more are coming to see them and are conducting research to learn their history, to expand their understanding of the past.

All well and good, you say. But the museum is bursting at the seams. Collectibles that should be on display are stored away in the courthouse in a room Probate Judge David Standridge and county administrator Ralph Mitchell offered in answer to museum docent Amy Rhudy’s plea for help.

As interest in the attractive little museum on Courthouse Square increases, so do the number of visitors and the activity. Largely because of Rhudy’s own fascination with the museum and her adopted county it serves and because of her enthusiasm for its services – think genealogical research – the place has become a beehive of activity. She and it are suffering of success.

The museum must have more space or it will stagnate. It’s in the appropriate location. If the foundation is adequate, a second story might be built. That failing, could an extension be constructed behind it or on one side or the other? In either direction it will take up valuable parking space.

The handwriting’s on the wall. The county needs a parking deck. Business on main street may be diminished. Activity at the courthouse isn’t.

This woman’s interest in history goes beyond the museum. She thinks elements of countygovernment history should be displayed at the courthouse, impressive for its well kempt grounds.

Attention should be called to the mural depicting the days of cotton in the South and appearing in the entrance of what was originally the post office, now headquarters of the county school board. It’s one of the murals over the country painted by hungry artists paid by the government during the Great Depression.

History crosses the street from Courthouse Square to the Little Brick Church, where began a walk up the hill that brought the historic merging of two arms of the Methodist Church.

Just beyond that is the imposing Denton-Hendrix House, which has been standing almost a century. It bears a historical marker, the first awarded by the Blount County Historical Society. (See page B1 this issue.)

When motorists top the hill of Ala 75 at First Street, historical markers could draw their attention to this compact kernel of the past, which if effectively accented as part of downtown’s revitalization, could draw them to main street, only a block away, where more history could be celebrated – and maybe more sales made.

All of that goes through this woman’s mind, as she thinks of Oneonta’s past and its future.