Ramona Renfroe couldn’t believe her good fortune when she was hired as director of the Museum of Ashe County History.
“It’s funny the times I’ve driven past and the lights are on and I say, I work there!” she said. “I love it.”
Renfroe began her duties May 1 as administrator, and assisting Curator Don Long.
With a background in museum education and interpretation, Renfroe is excited about her work at the Ashe County museum. She spent 13 years as education coordinator with the Onslow County Museum and served as interpretation manager with the Culture and Heritage Museum in Rock Hill. She has a degree in theater.
“I really enjoy working with the public,” Renfroe said. “And they (the MACH board) were looking for someone who could stand up in front of kids or wear a funny hat and keep their attention, and I can do that!”
Renfroe is one of the first 200 people in North Carolina through the Department of Health and Natural Resources to become an environmental educator. She has worked with schools on outreach programs such as explaining pioneer life, something Long has done with Ashe County schools. Renfroe said she is open to partnering with the Mountain Life Farm Museum on such programs.
Renfroe and Long both have living history backgrounds and enjoy working with schools and community groups to explain history and heritage.
“We have a one room school and some log cabins we would love to set up, and I’d love to have a blacksmith’s forge,” she said. “We have looms we could set up outside for weaving demonstrations.”
Next up for the museum is a new World War II exhibit “Over Here Over There: Ashe County’s Contribution to WWII.”
“We are looking for stories, about the war and the homefront and how the families coped with their young men leaving in droves, and even some young women, and how that impacted those left behind,” Renfroe said. Locust trees were cut to replaces the creosote telephone and power poles taken down for the war effort, and people had to make do without certain things.
Fundraising is always going on to go toward restoring the second floor courtroom. The “crazy quilt” will be raffled, personalized bricks are still being made, and the time capsule project is underway,.
On Oct. 13, the Museum of Ashe County History, in partnership with the Olde Towne Business Association, will host a fall celebration with Civil War re-enactors, the closing of the time capsule, the grand opening of the World War II exhibit, a celebration of the train diorama, along with music and food and lots of fun activities.
And in the meantime, there is always something new to see at the museum, such as the original clock from the register of deeds office. It is an eight-day clock made by H. Cone & Sons and was given away in exchange for a certain number of cigar bands collected. The clock was restored by Jerry Brown and hangs above the original mantle from the register of deeds office.
“I feel so fortunate this building has been preserved,” said Renfroe. “I am really proud of the way the restoration was handled, preserving the space and keeping it intact down to the floors. You can see burn marks and some of the original touches. They went back to the original paint color except for the military room mainly because they thought the military wouldn’t appreciate dusty rose.”
The Museum of Ashe County History is located in the historic 1904 courthouse in Jefferson. It belongs to Ashe County with a 100-year lease by the museum which handles restoration and preservation. For more information, call 846-1904 or go online to www.ashehistory.org.