City of residence: Perry
Volunteer service: Director, Perry Area Historical Society Museum
Q: How long has the Perry Area Historical Society Museum been open?
A: Since March 1, 2010, so we’re in our sixth year.
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Q: What is the museum’s focus?
A: It’s to preserve and exhibit history. Our goal is to educate the public about the history of Houston County--history of the land, of the structures, the people, of anything to do with Houston County. Another mission is in the growing area of genealogy research. People come from everywhere looking for information on their ancestors.
Q: You literally have thousands and thousands of items large and small; what’s the range of exhibits?
A: Letters and pictures, uniforms and pageant gowns, old post office furniture and medical items, tools, kitchen ware and so much more. It goes on and on. We have all sorts of documents and memorabilia.
Q: How old is your oldest item, and what’s the newest exhibit material you’ve received for your collection?
A: Our oldest exhibit goes back to the Perry charter in 1824, but then we do have land records going all the way back to 1821. We have deeds back to the 1930s. So we really are building on items from those earliest days.
Q: And the most recent thing you’ve gotten?
A: Oh, I love this one. A house was being torn down in Atlanta and the people doing the demolition found boxes in the attic. They wanted to trash them but one person said no, there’s history there. It was Civil War era pictures and items and Wimberly family files, a family from Houston County. They found our website and brought them to us. Indeed a treasure trove.
Q: Describe the layout of the museum.
A: We’re located in the old Evans house behind the Perry library. We basically have eight rooms and hallway areas and each room has a theme. We work to be well organized and have a flow to the overall display.
Q: What are the room themes? And maybe a featured item?
A: When you enter, you’re in the Perry Room, featuring the mail slot cabinet from the first post office here. Then there’s a Social History Room. Among other things, we have Perry’s first--and only--telephone switchboard cabinet. There’s the Dining Room that includes items from the New Perry Hotel. In the kitchen, we have all kinds of wares and a functioning wood stove that really is lovely. We have an enclosed back porch that’s the “man cave” with all sorts of tools and some unique farm implements. We have a Places Room that features school, church and business history, that sort of thing. There’s a People Room that has a military emphasis because of the area’s great military history but also features people involved in politics, medicine, Boy Scouts and others. The military display is centered around Gen. Courtney Hodges who was from Perry and commander of the 1st Army in World War I.
Q: Haven’t there been an inordinate number of political leaders from Perry?
A: There’ve been 47 state representatives, 17 state senators, two governors, one U.S. representative and one U.S. senator, so quite a few.
Q: What’s the most interesting exhibit to you personally?
A: I guess, because of my background, I’d have to say it involves education. I came here in 1971 and spent 30 years at Perry High School one way or another, as a teacher or technology coordinator there or for the county. My favorite isn’t so much an item but that we’ve been able to put together the history of Houston County’s education system and records for every graduating class from Perry High School from the 1890s all the way to the present.
Q: So all in all, you think the museum has quite a story to tell? An important story?
A: There are people who value history and have been supportive to enable us to be here. We feel there needs to be a lasting, accurate repository for history. If there’s not, we could lose it. But the museum isn’t the only way we tell our story.
Q: How else?
A: We have displays at the Houston County Courthouse and Perry High School. We’ve restored and operate the last remaining one-room schoolhouse in Houston County. There once were 58 of them. It’s behind the board of education offices on Main Street and we have monthly events and presentations there. We have limited space here but I think we use it wisely and go beyond here to fulfill our mission. We’re starting a monthly, second Thursday presentation at The Coffee Cup in downtown Perry that we we’re calling A Cup of History. We have a lot of fun with history. We also provide the information for the annual Evergreen Cemetery drama.
Q: What’s your address and how can people get hours and museum information?
A: We’re at 901 Northside Drive. Our phone is 478-224-4442 and our website is at perryhistoricalsociety.org. You can drop in or we also do special tours for groups and children’s classes and groups.
Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.