Paden City Museum Upgraded
Lovers of local history will have something to be happy about as volunteers of the Paden City Museum continue to make upgrades to the local history repository with hopes of re-opening to the public in the very near future. As with many public buildings, the Museum closed in March due to the current public health issue (COVID-19) and has remained shuttered in accordance with state and local mandates. However, the Museum staff have been hard at work making improvements to the facility.
The Museum opened in 2000 in the former Paden City Middle School and a mere year later, had outgrown its location so committee purchased the former Seaman’s Grocery store building on Main Street from Wesbanco, made extensive renovations, and relocated the collection in September of 2001. Since then the building has undergone even more restoration work and renovation to expand and make the facility more accessible to the public while offering the largest collection of Paden City history artifacts anywhere. The most recent upgrade is the installation of air conditioning to the century-plus old building. The Museum, a project of the Paden City Foundation, Inc. received a generous grant from the Harry and Olive Barth Trust fund and used the money to have air conditioning installed on both the ground and second story floors. Rodney McWilliams, spokesperson for the Museum commented, “We always thought air conditioning was needed but didn’t have the funds for it and there were so many other things with the building that needed addressed first. It is great to finally have it. We had it installed in February just before everything broke loose with the pandemic so the public wasn’t able to enjoy it this summer like we had planned. We were planning on a grand re-opening to show off all the improvements that were done over the past couple of years with new windows, ceilings, walls, and such but had to postpone that event.”
In addition, the front the building also got a do-over as new curtains were hung over the large display windows and the front was all repainted. “I had been wanting to repaint the front for a few years as the paint had faded. A couple of good friends of mine from Parkersburg — Casey Daggett and Harley Naylor — jumped in and we got the front and back painted this summer. Also, Ruby McWilliams climbed up into the windows above the display windows to hang new sheer curtains. Those had not been replaced since she hung the original ones 19 years ago.”
Ruby laughingly noted, “I climbed up there almost 20 years ago to hang the first curtains so I figured I better do it again. I am thinking the next time those curtains need replaced, they may have to find someone else to climb up there.”
“Sue Adcock has been working since last winter re-printing and re-tagging all the items on display with new tags. Many of the tags have been in place since the Museum opened in 2000 and Sue wanted to do new ones which look really nice,” McWilliams noted. “We are still working on some interior painting and will work in the basement also. Several volunteers including Jim and Bernidene Culp and Debbie Williamson spent many hours last winter and spring giving the Museum a good old-fashioned “spring cleaning“. Old buildings like this one seem to produce their own dirt and dust so that intense cleaning made the whole place look fresh and new again.”
The Museum wanted to support the town’s annual giant Labor Day Parade especially since this year presented some new challenges. A float was fashioned using male and female military uniforms, the United States flag and flags represented the branches of the armed forces to honor the country’s military and help make the public aware of the Museum’s presence in the town and surrounding area. “Participating in the Labor Day parade was good for the Museum and helped keep the annual tradition of Labor Day in Paden City alive and we are thankful to Susan Wade and her committee for putting the parade together,” McWiliams commented.
McWilliams added, “Even though the Museum building has been closed for several months, the Museum is still alive and well and the volunteers have been hard at work making sure it is an asset to our community. Their dedication makes all the work worthwhile. We are getting some new and excited volunteers on board also and I just want to thank those that have been working so hard on this project for so many years. Many of the volunteers not only donate their time, but they also donate a great deal of money for the upkeep and operating expenses of the Museum. We have been fortunate to have received grant funds from the Barth trust and some other sources over the years, but our operating expenses have to be funded through donations and fund-raising. The annual 5K race has helped a lot over past nine years but we were not able to hold the race this year. We hope to upgrade the remaining windows upstairs to cut down on our utilities expense and find ways to generate funds for our building insurance costs, etc. so we graciously accept monetary donations to help meet those needs.”
For information or to contribute to the mission of preserving local history, donations can be sent to the Paden City Museum, P.O. Box 233, Paden City, WV 26159.