Beginning at least in 1967 with the foundation of Hanover Arts & Activities Center, Ashland residents have talked about establishing a Town Museum to tell the story of Ashland and to provide a safe repository for historical artifacts that are both privately and publicly owned but have been stored in various places for years.
Then in 2008 during the Town’s yearlong 150th Anniversary Celebration, it became evident that there is a huge interest among our citizens in the history of our Town. As part of the final celebration, volunteers filled the old gymnasium at Randolph-Macon with exhibits of all kinds of historical information: family histories, oral histories, biographies of important people in the town’s past, church histories, histories of businesses, and much more. Everyone became aware that the stores of artifacts and photographs under people’s beds and in people’s attics are in danger of being lost, and with them, important pieces of the Ashland history puzzle. And the 150th Yearbook, preserving forever the stories of “all those who ever considered themselves Ashlanders,” demonstrated the growing genealogical interest as well, as people began exploring their families’ pasts.
The enthusiasm generated by Ashland’s 150th Anniversary Celebration inspired a small group of citizens to move forward with plans for an Ashland Museum. The 150th Celebration had already provided the foundation.
Calling themselves, “The Ashland Museum Project,” the group held their first official meeting on 31 January 2009 to begin the process. They have been meeting regularly ever since. The core group has grown and coalesced to form a Board of Directors. We have created this web site as a way to communicate our plans, our mission & vision, and to share a small part of Ashland’s history with the entire world. We are on our way (we hope) toward raising enough money and enthusiasm to create mini-exhibits to place around town, online, and at special events. Eventually, we hope there will be an Ashland Museum in a rented space or a building of our own.
Right now, we have office and archives storage space at the Hanover Arts and Activities Center. We are offering tours of Ashland’s historic Red Caboose at 105-A Hanover Avenue and have an exhibit space at 105 Hanover Avenue. We also have a virtual museum located right here on this growing website. We have non-profit status and are applying for grants to help us properly store any artifacts and photos that come our way for use by scholars, genealogists, students, and others. Grants will also help us use our artifacts to develop educational and entertaining exhibits for our citizens and visitors.
Join our effort. You don’t have to live within the confines of the Ashland town limits to call yourself an Ashlander. As the 150th Anniversary Yearbook did, we invite “all those who ever considered themselves Ashlanders” either by birth, marriage, accident, or for love of the town, to join our effort.
Your support will help us build our fledgling organization, buy archival supplies, let the community know about the Museum project, and support this web site. It will also bring us closer to having a physical museum space where we can put the history of Ashland on permanent display for visitors and residents. Please give us your Support!
If you have questions or comments, please contact us.