Historical House

Haunted building houses plays,
brown bag events, research room

Museum is a family treasure chest
of offerings, events

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

SCOTTSBURG, Ind. (September 2010) – Interest in the Scott County Heritage Center and Museum usually steps up in October when ghost tours of the museum are offered. But the building provides a variety of events and extensive genealogical research rooms for those interested in learning the history of this small, quaint town.
Ghost tours are actually offered any Saturday night of the year but are “most popular in October around Halloween,” said Assistant Director Jeanne Abbott. The tours are given anytime in October and an overnight package is available.
Guests can sleep where they want to and bring ghost hunting equipment, said Abbott. The museum offers a friendly ghost tour, one where children are always welcome.
The president of the museum’s Board of Directors, Lynn Lamb, takes visitors on the ghost tours. He relates spooky and unusual stories of things that have happened in the 1892 building located at 1050 S. Main St. in Scottsburg.
In 1879, the city of Scottsburg built the Scott County Home, also known locally as the Poor Farm. It replaced the previous County Home, which had been located in Lexington, Ind. In 1892, the small wood framed house was dismantled to make room for the larger current three-story brick building.
By 1973 it had been converted into an annex of county offices used by the county until 1996. The county then gave the home to the Scott County Community Foundation.
Because of its historical nature, in 2000 the home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It officially became the Scott County Heritage Center and Museum in April 2003.
The first floor was renovated through a Community Focus Fund grant, as was the exterior of the building. This created a special room in which to hold events, a display room, gift shop, kitchen, storage room, director’s office and restrooms.
“The second floor renovation was completed just more than a year ago,” said Vice President of the Board of Directors of Preservation Alliance Inc. (PAI), Janet Payne. PAI serves as the governing body for the museum. The renovation project received a USDA Rural Development loan in 2007. It has to be repaid to complete interior renovation and make improvements on the grounds.
“We work hard to be self-sustaining,” said Payne. Funding is a constant effort; they rely on membership dues, monthly barn sales, theater productions, history dinners, raffles and private donations to help upkeep the building, she said.
“We have an active group of volunteers,” said Marty Randall, who serves as secretary on the Board of Directors of PAI. When dinners and deserts are needed for the various programs that are offered, volunteers do all the work, Randall said.
“Currently, we receive no funding from our county government,” she said. PAI received the building from the county for $1 years before renovation began. All three floors and the grounds have undergone renovation. Randall refers to the building as the county’s “family treasure chest.”
Ghost tours are just one of several annual events the museum hosts. The Scott County Museum Theatre Co. stages several productions a year, in addition to Brown Bag Luncheons (third Wednesday of every month Sept. through May) and historical dinners.
The museum plays host to exhibits that relate to Scott County’s rich history, such as the Marshfield train robbery by the Reno Brothers, the Pigeon Roost Massacre and Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s Raid. Current exhibits include a display on houses in Scott County, collectible glass shoes, and the old town depot. The exhibits change very often, said Abbott.
“Acquisitions telling of life in the area frequently are donated,” said Payne. “Most recently, we acquired 18 letters and documents written by a Scott County soldier who fought in the Civil War.”
The same acquisition contains a letter written by a woman from the Bovard family. “The Bovard family continues to have connections in Scott, Jefferson and Switzerland counties,” Payne said.
A separate section of the former Scott County Home is rented by the Scott County Genealogical Society Inc. Two rear rooms house extensive genealogical research materials.
Upcoming events include a display from the 50th anniversary of Indiana Historical Landmarks. This traveling display of 30 photographs will be at the museum from Aug. 21 through Sept. 7.
A Brown Bag Luncheon featuring speaker Helen Trueblood will take place at noon on Sept. 15. Drinks and dessert will be provided.

• For more information about the Scott County Heritage Center and Museum, contact Jeanne Abbott at (812) 752-1050. For more information on the museum’s genealogical material, call (812) 752-3388. Admission to the museum is free.

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