Pioneer Village director, Bobbie Young, stands with the park's
recent addition, a replica of a G. W. Grant Stageline. Daily Sun photo/KIRK SIDES
3/14/2003 A New Treasure for
By DEANNA PAWLOWSKI/Daily
Corsicana is host to a little treasure in the form of
Pioneer Village. Folks from far and wide have visited our town in order to view
the history that is guarded by Bobbie J. Young, Executive Secretary and Liz
Gillespie, who volunteers full time, six days a week between there and the
genealogy room at the Public Library.
Recently the replica of the stagecoach from the G.W.
Grant Stageline was overhauled. James Kirk of JK Construction replaced much of
the wood on the stage, which was rotting and falling into disrepair. Other
locals donated talent to replace upholstery, paint signs, and donate authentic
wheels for the project.
Also built recently at Pioneer Village was a storage
building, which is being utilized to store Christmas decorations and the riding
lawnmower used on the premises. Hopefully, this will free up space in the main
office for storage of artifacts.
"Tourism has been light since Sept. 11," said Young.
The last two months have seen a slight increase in traffic through the museum,
which should increase as the weather warms. "The effect of a war on tourism is
yet to be determined though," Young said. "We get lots of student groups -- we
recently had a group from a Mennonite School in Lott, Texas," said Young. The
Village is also host to senior tours, many from churches, and RV clubs have
become popular visitors.
Donations of artifacts are always welcome. The Hartzell
family donated the old General Store from around Dresden, along with some
beautiful dresses that don't fit any of the mannequins. The store was taken down
several years ago by a company out of Fredericksburg, the logs treated for
termites, other old logs were added and the whole structure brought back here
and put together. This same process is in dire need of being repeated with the
Blacksmith's Shop. Young said, "We have one grant in place already -- we just
need approval on the other grant before we can get rolling."
Another positive in the Pioneer Village saga is that
the site may be added to the "Lakes Trail" -- an historical trail through Texas
that is the focus of the Texas Historical Commission right now. Signs and
literature will be printed and distributed about the Lakes Trail, hopefully
giving a boost to our local tourism. Out of 24 sites submitted by the Navarro
County Historical Commission, five have been selected to be on the trail:
Capehart Communications, Pelham Historical Museum, Pioneer Village, Petroleum
Park & Nicols Welding, and The Cook Center.
One of the requirements of the Texas Historical
Commission is that museums become more interpretive. Young said, "We need more
information at each point that will tell the story of Corsicana and Navarro
County." This is a huge goal for the staff at Pioneer Village. One idea that
Young has to effect this change is to start a tour guide program, using trained
high school students. Dressed in period clothes, they would be stationed in some
of the houses and the general store and would talk about the historic people
connected with the building.
Young would also like to purchase UV filters for the
fluorescent lights in the display cases, as well as procuring more interpretive
signage and information stands. Fund raisers could become a priority, as well.
Acquiring archival storage space and materials for
photographs, documents, textiles and newspapers is a primary concern. The new
storage building is not climate controlled, and is therefore not equipped for
storage of these important items. Acid free archival supplies are needed to
preserve papers, documents and fabrics from the 1870s and later, in order to
keep them from deteriorating. These supplies are very expensive, however, and
Pioneer Village operates on a tight budget.
So if you find yourself with a free afternoon and the
kids are bugging you for something to do, take a ride down to West Park Avenue
and learn a little history about the place where you live.
Deanna Pawlowski may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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