Commissioners toured the future Museum of Ashe County History on Monday and also visited the temporary museum established across the street in Jefferson.
John Horton visited the museum April 15 to inspect the new phase of work. He is an assistant/consultant to Joe Oppermann, the architect who has been in charge of the restoration since its beginning. Horton is retired from the North Carolina Department of Archives and History and imminently qualified to make judgments on the critical, historical decisions which face every decision in the project.
All infrastructure work has been completed: wiring, plumbing, and heating/air conditioning; in other words, everything that is under the floors and behind the walls.
All windows have been restored to their original finishes and returned to their places in the courthouse. This is except for the three round windows just below the cupola on the front of the building. These will be replaced with stained glass dating from the early 20th century and donated by Jennie Clyde Hightower.
The new phase involves the stripping of all wood finishes and refinishing them to their original look and re-plastering surfaces that had originally been plastered. Jarrell Jones Company from Winston-Salem is in charge of this interior finish work. Dwight Love is a third generation plasterer doing all the plastering.
It is too soon to estimate when all work will be completed, but museum board members are optimistic that there will be a few rooms ready by late summer. An important point to note is that the project is one of restoration, not remodeling. Every aspect of the building must be reviewed by historical experts to make sure each phase meets the standards of historical accuracy. When more of the refinishing is completed, an open house will be planned to show the public progress on the museum.
The temporary museum is now open for the season. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The museum has received many exciting new artifacts over the winter and welcome new donations and new members. Museum volunteers are welcome. Contact Don Long, curator, at 846-1904.