Years after first being envisioned, the Madison County Historical Society’s Mountain Museum at Criglersville will officially open this month.
The museum, which honors the families of those displaced by the creation of Shenandoah National Park, was started in 2017. At that time, the historical society signed a lease with the Madison County Board of Supervisors for the two-story house to the left of the Criglersville Elementary School building. That lease, which allowed supervisors to terminate the agreement with six months advance notice, was amended in 2019 to remove that language. The current lease is in place for five years with the opportunity for five year extensions.
The amended lease allowed the historical society to invest in the building. Since 2019, the society has not only cleaned the building, but installed a new handicap ramp, removed the old carpet in the front room, installed new flooring in the kitchen and renovated the bathroom, complete with an incinerator toilet since the entire Criglersville property doesn’t have working septic or running water. The historical society uses bottled water.
Also updated are the building’s 16 windows. Last year, the historical society “sold” windows, taking donations to replace each window. A plaque is located on the window sill of each stating the name of the donor who “purchased” the window. The old windows were then sold to crafters who planned to use them for painting projects.
Perhaps the best part of the museum though isn’t the renovations, but the items that are on display. There are tools, quilts and more highlighting what life was like on the mountain prior to the creation of the park. There’s also photos of those who lived there, sitting in front of long ago forgotten country stores, enjoying the Madison County Fair of yesteryear and enjoying land that now is part of the federal park system.
“The average person doesn’t know about the people of the park,” Madison County Historical Society President Max Lacy said. “This museum changes that. We want that history preserved.”
There’s also a room dedicated to the Criglersville Elementary School with student desks, books and a sign from the annual harvest dinner.
Lacy said nearly all of the items, including the photos, have been donated to the society. He hopes more people will add to the collection. The society is able to scan photos and return them to those who own them and welcomes any folks may have.
In addition, the society recently completed a stone wall at the Blue Ridge Heritage Memorial Chimney that sits in front of the museum. The wall, which was done by rock masons Darryl and Jackie Whidby, includes information kiosks about the memorial and the families who were displaced.
The Mountain Museum at Criglersville will open to the public Sunday, June 27 with an open house from 2-4 p.m. The plan is for the museum to then be open on Sunday afternoons and possibly other weekend dates as well.
The historical society’s Madison Museum, located in the basement of the Kemper Residence, fully reopened June 1 and is open Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information about either museum, including how to submit photos for the Mountain Museum at Criglersville, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (540) 395-5119.