Thanks to the efforts of several local volunteers, restoration of the Veterans Memorial monument, outside of the Museum of Ashe County History in Jefferson, is nearly complete.
“Veterans Charles Pugh and Chuck Blevins chiseled old mortar out of the seams of the Veterans Memorial monument,” said Don Long, the curator of the museum.
Afterwards, David Sexton joined Pugh and Blevins to re-point the mortar seams, which should firm up the monument, said Long.
For several years, water has been seeping into the seams of the veterans monument, only to freeze and expand. This pattern causes long-term damage to the monument, said Long.
Also joining the restoration effort was Pete Eller, who re-painted the concrete transitions with white epoxy paint that should help prevent water damage for years to come, said Long.
“This was all volunteer work, we didn’t even need to buy the paint,” Long said.
With the restoration of the monument nearly complete, Long said he would like to replace the street light at the top of the monument with an American Legion globe. He said he plans on contacting the American Legion about acquiring this decorative piece.
Long said the monument was built in the 1940’s, though the exact date of construction in unknown. The only written account of the monument comes from a newspaper article dating back to 1949.
The museum has a few other restoration projects in mind for the future.
“Our major restoration project at present is the courtroom upstairs. This used to be the all-purpose community auditorium for everything that didn’t happen in church,” said Long. To elaborate, Long said, “Schools would have their graduations, spelling bees and school plays there. Musicians would perform (including Bill Monroe from the Grand Ole Opry). Guest speakers came to give talks and the county commissioners met there.”
According to Long, all these events took place because the space was only used for its official function on court days and would have stood empty the rest of the time if not used by others.
“We want the courtroom to be a place for the community to gather for exciting events once again,” said Long.
Making the museum handicap accessible will be the first challenge for the museum to overcome. According to Long, that can be accomplished by installing an elevator. After that task is completed, the museum will begin restoring the old courtroom itself.
“All sorts of wonderful things can happen there once we get it back in condition for the public,” Long said, adding that the museum has already begun fundraising and has created an escrow fund specifically for this project.
The museum board and staff have also set their sights on repairing the columns of the front porch, which are starting to crack due to water damage.
According to Long, the columns have already been repaired twice. The columns are structurally stable, because under the white stucco surface is a steel pipe surrounded by brick. The white stucco surface is for aesthetic appeal, but “is still in need of repair,” he said.
Long said the museum has not set any specific dates to begin working on either of these projects.
The community is invited to come to the museum on Saturday, Oct. 13 for a fall celebration and closing of the time capsule as well as tour the exhibits and learn more about the museum.