Although I’m both a Board member and the editor of both the online blog of the Juniata County Historical Society (of which you’re reading now) and our member’s quarterly newsletter, I’m relatively new to the organization – still learning the ins and outs of a small volunteer organization.
This past August, I was able to learn firsthand about one of the properties overseen and managed by the Society – the Academy Museum – when I served as the host during one of the Sunday Open Houses.
It was the first time I was ever at the museum. I didn’t know what to expect. Walking in the front door, I quickly realized that this little building in what seems like the middle of nowhere houses local historical treasures that really have to be seen!
I marveled at water main pipes made out of wood, an actual storefront from a General Store (I thought it had to be a reproduction but was amazed to find out it wasn’t), tools for sawing off legs in the Civil War and furniture from a women’s academy that no longer stands. Understand that this was the first five minutes that I entered – and only the first floor. The first floor was mostly one large room, but it’s arranged to bring guests in an orderly path around its treasures in a way that lets them get up close with each one.
A set of steps right by the entry beckoned me to the second floor. As I reached the top, I saw that the setup was a long hall with individual rooms. Some of the rooms were set up to show visitors what the bedrooms of the students resembled when the Academy was operating. Seeing the stoves used for heat in the bedrooms made me imagine living there in the cold months.
Other rooms were set up to allow close inspection of historical items from different time periods.
One room showcased medical practice and tools of the past. I can tell you that, after seeing that exhibit, my fears of the modern doctor’s office were a bit relieved. Thank goodness for advancements in medicine!!
Another room had items from the World Wars. There’s a great collection of pins in one display case. Upon closer examination, these pins had swastikas on them – and I’m told that some of these were from the very early formation of the Nazi regime. You just know these pins came from German soldiers who met their demise in the War! Other items in the room were uniforms donated by proud family members of veterans.
For those of us who are wishing we had more hair than we do, the room full of historical hair care machines is simply humorous. Take a look at the devices used for curling and drying hair. It seems to me that these things would twist and blow the hair off the strongest heads of hair out there!
If you’ve never visited the Academy Museum, I strongly encourage it! Now, the summer is over and there won’t be official open hours until next summer, but you could always arrange for a trip up by contacting the Juniata County Historical Society at (717) 436-5152 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.