Watsontown Museum reopens 5 months after ceiling damage

Apr. 2—WATSONTOWN — Five months to the day, after the ceiling on the north half of the Watsontown Historical Museum's lobby fell, the facility celebrated a reopening on Monday.

When the damage occurred there was minimal harm to any artifacts, said Bert Brown, a museum volunteer.

She recalled that day when the tiles started to fall.

"We were able to see it all using what had been saved on the security camera," Brown said. "It revealed a crawl space, which we didn't know was there."

There are at last five separate rooms in the musuem, all leading to the main lobby, which is filled with historical pieces.

"We were able to save everything except for maybe a wall calendar," Brown said. Each of the connecting rooms holds artifacts that draw a stunning picture of Watsontown's history — a military room, a school room, a room holding school yearbooks, and a room where people could trace their genealogy.

The military room right now is honoring former Watsontown Mayor Robert Brown.

The Watsontown Historical Association used funds from a $150,000 Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) grant to pay for renovations. They also had $120,000 on hand, raised by the association to buy the property from Santander Bank.

Jim Williams and his five-person crew from J.S. Williams and Son General Contracting started work on the lobby damage the day the ceiling collapsed.

"Much of the ceiling and some of the wall had to be removed," Williams said. "We tore it out and then put it back together. I was pleasantly surprised that there wasn't more damage done to the artifacts. We did a lot of cleanup. I don't think we'll ever finish the work here. The museum is a work in progress, an ongoing project."

Connor Blackwell, a senior at Warrior Run High School was instrumental in helping get things in order.

"I painted a lot of displays, and the walls, particularly in the military room," Blackwell said.

He also helped move around some of the displays and carried heavy objects upstairs, things that didn't need to be put out on display.

"For a little town of 2,400 people, this museum is not too bad," said Rick Wolfe, the association's stained-glass master. "People around here, they just don't throw things away."

The museum is open to the public 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, 6 to 8 p.m. Thursdays, and 1 to 4 p.m. the first and third Saturdays and Sundays of the month.