Carroll County life is focus of exhibit opening at gallery

November 11, 1999|By Jean Marie Beall | Jean Marie Beall,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Resting in the middle of a large room is a large silver cup, once belonging to Robert W. Walden, former owner of Bolling Brook Farm north of Uniontown. It was the last trophy his racehorse won. In another room in a corner rests a marble bust by artist William Rinehart.

By tomorrow, both of these objects, with more than 200 others, will be in their places in the Historical Society of Carroll County's new Shriver-Weybright Exhibition Gallery.

The new exhibition, "Doorway to the Past," opens to members tomorrow and to the public Nov. 20.

According to the society's director, Jay Graybeal, the exhibit attempts to tell a story about the way Carroll county residents lived in years past.

Graybeal tells the story of a lock belonging to Good's Tavern in Taneytown in the late 1700s. George Washington was said to have passed through Taneytown and touched the lock.

"People want to save that story," Graybeal explained. "It's interesting to see what people thought what was important. This is a tangible piece of what they thought was important."

For the past two months, newly hired curator Catherine Baty has been working to organize the exhibit, no mean task with more than 50,000 objects to work with.

"We decided to organize it into five sections according to the types of stories the items tell," Baty said.

The five sections are relics, community artifacts, art objects, personal artifacts and household items.

"The lock would be considered a relic," Baty explained. "When we looked at community, we looked at fire departments, schools and commercial establishments. We have a spool cabinet from the 1890s that came from a dry goods store. That would come under community artifacts. The marble bust by Rinehart is art."

The Historical Society of Carroll County was founded in 1939 with the immediate goal of preserving the historic Shellman House in Westminster.

"The society's purchase of the Shellman House gave it a historically significant property to preserve and a facility for presenting public programs," according to society literature.

Graybeal said that in 1966 the Commissioners of Carroll County purchased the historic Kimmey House next to Shellman House and donated the property to the historical society. This is where the society has its administrative offices. In 1968, the room that is the Shriver-Weybright Exhibition Gallery was added.

Graybeal said this exhibition was part of the society's board of directors' long-range planning.

The exhibition was made possible by a $13,000 grant from the Maryland Museum Assistance Program, Graybeal said. The money was used to purchase cases, put panels on all windows to block sunlight that can damage artifacts, and to install lighting fixtures that allow light levels to be controlled, he said.

The grant money allowed the room to be converted into a permanent exhibition space.

Graybeal said the exhibition would run through next spring.

"Then a portion of the exhibition will change two to three times a year," he said. "For the next year, we plan on displaying newspaper advertising. We have 11 blowups of the advertising that will be displayed. At another point we will have a collection of quilts displayed."

Janice Kispert, the society's new director of advancement, said volunteers have made a lot of programs possible. She said she encourages people to get involved in the historical society.

"We have [several] ways to volunteer for the Historical Society of Carroll County," Kispert said. "You can become a gallery guide, become a behind-the-scenes supporter of major events, work in our research library, help to maintain the society's historical properties, perform essential clerical tasks, help assemble a bulk mailing project and join a committee and help plan the future of the society."

Anyone interested in volunteering may call 410-848-6494.

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