steps closer to its goal
By Helen E. McKinney,
(June, 2002)NEW CASTLE, Ky. The Henry County Historical
Society found a permanent home in 1996 by purchasing the Caplinger House
in New Castle. Plans are steadily evolving to turn it into a museum
with a genealogical and educational resource center.
The house was purchased for approximately $55,000, and an additional
$100,000 was borrowed to completely renovate it inside and out, according
to society president Shirley Sills.
County Historical Society
is turing this house into a
and research center
Proceeds from the sale of a history book of Henry County
and donations helped ease some of the incurred debt. Sills said that
untold numbers of volunteers combined in a community effort to restore
the home to some of its former glory.
An architect and an historic preservation consultant, both from the
University of Kentucky, began the initial phase of renovation. Local
artisans then assumed responsibility for the exterior and interior restoration.
James Nelson Caplinger moved to New Castle in 1852 and built the house
in 1863. The home is one of three he built in New Castle for each of
his three daughters. Caplinger was a carpenter and was also involved
in a pharmacy business.
Betsey Sewell, a society member who volunteers at the History Center
and Museum, said that the Caplinger House offers quite a bit of history
to local families. There were a lot of weddings here. It belongs
to a lot of people in the community.
It became a popular site for weddings because the United Methodist Church
owned the house from 1917 until 1969. It served as the church Parsonage
for more than 50 years.
Sills said the house has been designated as a repository for county
court records. Some of these records, which include marriage licenses
and property deeds, date to 1799. Members are sorting and alphabetizing
these records for future use.
When finished, the History Center and Museum will hold a wealth of information
on Henry County history. The society is repaying the county by providing
a home for information that cannot be found elsewhere. Individuals have
traveled from as far away as Tucson, Ariz., to search through files,
looking for clues to their ancestors, said Sills.
Although the society holds its meetings there, Sills said organizations
that donate $500 a year are allowed to use the center for business meetings,
if one member is also a society member.
Many historical society-sponsored programs are provided in the home
to educate and enrich the public. One such event was a recent reading
by native Henry County author Wendell Berry.
As a fund-raising event, the historical society has planned a golf scramble
for June 15 at the Henry County Country Club. Board member Mark Boyer
said the society hopes to raise $2,500 from this event.
Many items have been donated for display at the home. We have
adopted a collection management policy, Sills said. Individuals
can donate items, but the board and museum chairperson must approve
the donations. Once accepted, the museum assumes unrestricted ownership,
meaning it can display or store items as it sees best.
Through June, the museum is running a pictorial exhibit titled, Life
Along the Ohio River. Operating hours for the public are 10 a.m.
to noon Monday through Friday.
For information on the golf scramble, call (502)
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