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A Museum For Jasper

Posted on Wednesday, January 24, 2024 at 1:11 pm


When I was a small child and visited Englewood, Tennessee with my grandparents, I loved going to the museum.  Their museum was on the main street downtown.  I wanted a museum for Jasper.  It took several years to come true.

Gwen Carter, Nancy Raffo, and I were good friends, and we talked “museum”.  They had the same dream as I did.  We began to gather antiques.  We moved all the things we had gathered into an empty store building downtown Jasper.  People began to bring us things for our empty building.  Soon several people were stopping to help us, and the building was full.  We began searching for places to move.

Out first meeting was to get the news of a museum told.  We had our meeting in the grave yard of the Little While Church on First Street.  A big crowd attended and everyone seemed interested.  We then talked with Billy Simpson and John H. Harris, and they were happy to loan us their big store windows for display.  The churches and people gave items to display.  We had a meeting one Saturday on the sidewalk in front of the stores.  A big crowd of Jasper folk came and showed their interest in a museum.

Now the big problem showed up.  We had no place to have our museum.  Well, then a miracle happened.  The families of Joe Ray Wilson and Roy Carter got in touch with us and offered a house in Kimball as a gift. They were moving this house and asked if we wanted it.  We could hardly believe our good luck.  This was July 2007.  Our big problem was where to take this house.  Then, we were offered the lot just behind the old elementary school in Jasper.  Now, a new big problem “moving it”.  The best deal we found was $10,000 to move it.  This kind of money was impossible to come by.  Guess what?  Two young men from Jasper who moved buildings offered a big gift!  They would move it free!  Only problem was to stop the traffic on the 4th of July and raise the electric wires.  Oh well, it all worked out and everybody who lived near the highway and along the route helped as the house was moved to the lot across from Jasper Police Department.  It is still there, Jasper Regional History Museum.

We began to add other citizens to our roll.  The first one was Les Price, then Susie Gourly.  Soon lots of names came up.  The Jasper Regional History Museum was established in 2004, and the Board of Directors at that time were:  Gwen Carter, President, Nancy Raffo, Secretary, Barbara Holloway, Treasurer, with members Mary Pinnix, John Pinnix, Leon Rash, Jim Kirk, Billy Simpson, Wanda Murphy, Daniel Carter, Paul West and Libby Austin.

Of course our work had just begun.  The Marion county Chamber of Commerce 2007 Project of the Year was the Jasper Regional History Museum.  Lots of hard work went into getting the house ready for all the displays and antiques.  James Roberts donated the heating and air system.  Another company gave the roofing and the concrete.   There are just too many names to remember, but Jasper sure did a wonderful job pulling together to get the museum up and running.  A sign was hung in the front yard and a celebration began. Our first big project was restoring the old Jasper fire truck that makes its home in the museum yard.

Now Jasper has a museum everyone can enjoy.  Come by any Saturday from 10 to 12 and visit.  It’s a great place.

The Marion Tribune – September 14, 2023