Historic Shepherdstown Newsletter Feb. 24, 2023

Dear Historic Shepherdstown Members and Supporters,

Historic Shepherdstown is excited to share some good news with our members and supporters. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Historic Shepherdstown Museum, and we are delighted to announce that we are opening a new exhibit; John Kavaliunas, the chair of our Museum Committee, has been named a West Virginia History Hero; and we have received a grant from Volunteer West Virginia to update our training materials for volunteers and docents.

40th Anniversary Celebration

The Historic Shepherdstown Museum will kick off its 40th year on Saturday, April 15, when the Museum reopens to the public. The highlight of the year will be a new exhibit entitled “Great Dreams: Maps of Shepherdstown and Jefferson County from the 17th through the 21st Century.” The exhibit includes several original maps owned by the Museum, including what is believed to be Thomas Shepherd’s original plat map of Mecklenburg, both an 1852 and an 1883 Map of Jefferson County by S. Howell Brown, an 1890 plat map of Shepherdstown by S.E. Humrickhouse, and a 1920s Shaw and Whitmer map of Jefferson County. In addition, the exhibit includes maps that show the evolution of Jefferson County, several Civil War-era maps, and an aerial map that outlines the Historic District of Shepherdstown.

The exhibit is located on the third floor of the Museum. Thanks must be extended to Americana Corner for funding the restoration of the 1852 S. Howell Brown map, the reproduction of several maps from the Library of Congress map database, and the signage for the exhibit. We also need to thank the Jefferson County Historical Society for donating an original copy of S. Howell Brown’s 1883 map of Jefferson County. That map is being conserved, and we expect it to be in place by the time the Museum opens.

For our celebration, we are also assembling an exhibit of photographs that highlight the Historic Entler Hotel, including its restoration by local residents after it was turned over to Shepherdstown by the West Virginia legislature.

Stay tuned for other 40th anniversary-themed events.

History Hero

John Kavaliunas, a long-time member of the Historic Shepherdstown Board of Directors and the current chair of our Museum Committee, has been named a 2023 West Virginia History Hero. Historic Shepherdstown Commission nominated John for the award because of his dedication to the Museum. John is always on the lookout for new Shepherdstown-related acquisitions. He also was the driving force behind our new map exhibit. He researched early maps of the area, selected those that best told the story of Shepherdstown and Jefferson County, and wrote many of the descriptions that accompany the maps. John received his award in Charleston on Feb. 23, from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History. Congratulations John!

Volunteer West Virginia grant and call for volunteers

Historic Shepherdstown was recently notified that we have received a grant of more than $6,000 from Volunteer West Virginia to update our volunteer training materials. We plan to use the funds to develop a new docent handbook with information about important artifacts within the Museum. We will share the handbooks with current and new docents as well as with new members of the Board of Directors. In addition, we will be looking at best practices for recruiting and retaining volunteers, including for the Board, committees, and docents. Thanks to our grants committee – Frances Bernstein and Claudia Dressler – and our vice president Jerry Bock for writing and submitting the grant proposal.

Historic Shepherdstown welcomes volunteers to serve as Museum docents, members of the various Board committees, and as members of the Board of Directors. Docents commit to volunteering for two to three hours a month while the Museum is open. Board members are elected in September and commit to attending six board meetings, a strategic planning meeting, the annual meeting in September, and to serving on committees. If you don’t have time to serve as a docent or on the board but are still interested in volunteering, we also have a number of committees that support our organization, including for the Museum, the Entler building and grounds, grants, marketing, and events. Anyone who is interested in volunteering can contact us at [email protected], or by calling 304-876-0910.

Annual membership drive

HSC is holding its annual membership drive. We depend on the support of our members to fulfill our mission to tell the story of Shepherdstown, and to help us maintain the historic Entler Hotel complex and the Historic Shepherdstown Museum. We welcome new and renewing members. You can mail your membership contribution to Historic Shepherdstown Commission, PO Box 1786, Shepherdstown, WV, or join through our website, www.historicshepherdstown.com. Select “Support” from the menu at the top of the page and then “Join or Renew” from the drop-down menu.

George Tyler Moore Center news

Dr. Jim Broomall, the director of the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War, is now a member of the Historic Shepherdstown Board of Directors. The center will be featuring Dr. Emilie Amt, professor emerita of history from Hood College, on Thursday, March 2, at the Byrd Center at Shepherd University. In her lecture, “Black Antietam: Searching for African American Civil War History,” Amt will talk about the hundreds of Black civilians, both enslaved and free, who lived on and around the battlefield at Antietam. Amt will cover how they experienced the war and the battle, how they reconstructed their lives afterward, what America’s bloodiest day and the Emancipation Proclamation meant to them, and how their memories of this pivotal event were preserved or erased. The 7 p.m. lecture is free and open to the public.

Finally, save the date. Members will be receiving an invitation to the Spring Opening Reception, scheduled for April 21. Keep an eye out for it and thank you for continued support.

Donna M. Bertazzoni
President, HSC Board of Directors