The opening of the Fulton County Welcome Center is still a year away but work continues at the new site as well as the current museum.
Director John Swearingen provided an update on the project to The Village Reporter.
“We are putting up the walls and reproducing the courthouse,” Swearingen said of the latest progress on the site situated north of the turnpike in Wauseon, across the street from the Fulton County Fairgrounds. “We put the roof in next week; the Barn Museum is enclosed.”
The $3 million-plus project will expand the available space for the museum from its present home and will double as a welcome center for the county to visitors. The center will celebrate the people and the artifacts they left behind, from the Stone Age to the 1960s, Swearingen said.
The front entrance will be one such artifact, the entrance to the old Metamora High School. It will be refurbished to welcome the visitors to the new facility.
“The people of Metamora saved it when they tore the school down and we have been keeping it in storage,” Swearingen said.
Right now, the museum staff is working on cataloging the arrowheads in the collection in preparation of one gallery devoted to Native Americans. There will be 12 permanent galleries that will feature the communities and the people.
One such display will be about Abner Baker of Swanton who invented the piston and valve gear that allowed locomotives’ wheels to go round and round, and forward and backward, Swearingen said. Baker later developed threshing machines that are still operational today, he said.
The early woodshop of Erie Sauder will be recreated along with antique tools of the period.
The museum will cover 6,000 square feet, large enough so people can’t say they saw it all in one day. The permanent galleries will eat up 4,000 square feet, while 1,000 square feet is set aside for two rotating displays.
“I want it to be big enough to give people a reason to go back,” Swearingen said.
The goal is to bring tourism and the museum together. By learning about a specific town or sight, the hope is the visitors will take that information and explore the county for themselves.
The current museum will be kept on until the collection has been cataloged and sent to the new museum.
Funding comes from the state, county and historical society at $1 million each. The Ohio Department of Transportation has built the driveways and parking lot.
When the museum opens, it is hoped that one more person can be hired to allow it to be open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year.
James Pruitt may be reached at email@example.com