Category Archives: Museums

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 20, 2014

001One of the books in my library collection published in 1977 is about the biography of a man who dedicated his life to the cause of civil rights. It tells about his early years, his preparation for life in the ministry and about his assassination on April 4, 1968. The title of this book is “The Life and Death of Martin Luther King, Jr.” by James Haskins.  I often re-read it, especially around this time of the year when an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. is observed on the third Monday of January every year.

In 1980 the National Historic Site was established to preserve the places where Martin Luther King, Jr. was born, lived, worked, worshiped and his final resting place in Atlanta, Georgia.  I visited this site last year – here’s my posting on that tour.


Written and Photographed by Mary Gilmartin, January 20, 2014


January 19, 2014 · 10:27 pm

History, Old Jail Museum in North Carolina

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Sometimes the most interesting museums to visit are not in large cities or in other countries, but only three hours away from where you live nestled in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

The Clay County Historical Museum can be found in the small town of Hayesville. It’s located in the building that once was known as the Old County Jail from the years 1912 until 1972.

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There are two floors to this historical museum with exhibits filling every room from spinning wheels to a vintage feed sack exhibit.

One of the rooms had an exhibit of a replica of an early farmhouse kitchen. Do you see the oil lamp on the table and the candles on the wall? This was the source of lighting a room after dark before the days of electricity.

7-Historical Museum Hayesville NCIn another room is an exhibit of Dr. Killian’s working office where he practiced medicine from the late 1800’s until 1940’s. He was one of Clay County’s most dedicated doctors. One his desk is one of his ledgers where he kept records of all the visits and charges for each patient. Small log books could be carried in his saddlebag.

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These photographs are just a glimpse into what you will find in this unique country museum. And, if you ever visit the museum make sure to see the Cherokee Homestead Outdoor Exhibit located outside. Below is only one of the things you will see.

1-Cherokee Winter Homestead NC2-Cherokee Winter Homestead NCCherokee Winter House

The American Cherokee Indian villages in the early 1700’s would have looked like this one that’s on exhibit.

To learn more about the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians click on this link. They are located in Cherokee, North Carolina.

Written and Photographed by Mary Gilmartin, September 12 , 2013


September 12, 2013 · 10:34 pm

Miniature Chair Museum, Stone Mountain, Georgia

6-Chair GalleryEveryone is passionate about collecting something.  Mine is “old books” and the older the better.

The other day I discovered a unique gallery on Main Street in the Village of Stone Mountain, Georgia. In all the rooms of this historic 1850 Circa house turned into a gallery I found thousands of “miniature chairs”.

One of my favorites was the yellow chair where Charlie Brown is sitting and reading a book. The character, Charlie Brown, first appeared in 1947, three years before Peanuts started, in a comic strip by Charles M. Schulz called Li’l Folks.

Barbara Hartsfield, Owner, of Collectible & Antique Chair Gallery 1-Chair Gallerystarted collecting miniature chairs over a ten-year period until it reached over 3,000 pieces.  That’s when she decided she wanted to show them to the public by opening a gallery. She even made the Guinness World Records for the largest collection of miniature chairs on the 13th of March 2008 receiving a certificate of documentation.

My tour of the gallery took me through a world of miniature chairs grouped by themes like Coca-Cola, Leisure and Jungle. There are holiday groupings like Easter, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving and a year-round Christmas tree decorated with more than 100 different miniature chair ornaments. And, the collection even includes chair earrings.

You must see it to believe it”-  Collectible & Antique Chair Gallery.

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Written and Photographed by Mary Gilmartin, January 20, 2013


Filed under Atlanta, Museums

The Wren’s Nest, Atlanta, Georgia

Uncle Remus bookcoverAtlanta’s oldest house museum, The Wren’s Nest, was home to Joel Chandler Harris, author of the Uncle Remus tales and Brer Rabbit stories from 1881 to 1908.  His stories inspired by oral storytelling traditions of African-Americans, formerly enslaved,  are written in dialect. The Atlanta Constitution first published his stories in 1876 and his first collection of folk poems and proverbs published in the year 1881: Uncle Remus: His Songs and Sayings.

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Yesterday  I drove into Historic West End in downtown Atlanta for a visit to The Wren’s 5-Joel Chandler Harris MuseumNest. The first thing I saw on the front porch of this Queen Anne Victorian house was the mailbox where the wrens made a nest over a hundred years ago giving this house its name.  And, on the museum website is  a photograph of where some wrens still make nests in the mailbox. This is the same porch where Joel Chandler Harris penned many of his Brer Rabbit tales.

I walked up to the door, reading the instructions on the sign and rang the doorbell next to the mailbox.  (Note: the sign reads: “Pease ring doorbell once for assistance. We’ll hear it alright.”)

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Somehow, I felt I had traveled  back in time when I entered arriving just in time to join the tour being given by Nannie. I learned everything 9-Joel Chandler Harris Museumsurrounding where she is standing is exactly as it was when Joel Chandler Harris lived there. Those are the same entry way drapes, painting on the wall and staircase going up to the second floor.  The only thing not original was the clock on the wall, but it is a close match. The other restored rooms complete with antique furniture are decor original to when the Harris family lived here. The tour included Joel Chandler Harris’ bedroom that looks untouched since 1908 and the place of his death. After reading more, a Wren’s Nest celebrity, about Nannie Thompson, Docent, who has given tours at the Wren’s Nest since 1999 and served as official Wren’s Nest housekeeper since 1996, I now realize I was in good company. Did you know that “Nannie knows more about the house than anyone and dares anyone of y’all to prove her wrong.”

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Theodore Roosevelt during his reign as President of the United States befriended Joel Chandler Harris and wrote him many letters. There are letters from June 9, 1902,  October 24, 1907 and June 15, 1908, just to name a few.  In some of them he talked about his younger children’s pets and about reading some of all his stories to the children over again.

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A photograph taken of Joel Chandler Harris by Frances B. Johnson is documented in the writing to the right.  If you click on it, you can read the full script.12-Joel Chandler Harris Museum

This photograph  reproduced for the Joel Chandler Harris commemorative postage stamp in 1948, marked a hundred years from the date of his birth.

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20-Joel Chandler Harris Museum copyAnd, now let me tell you about  Akbar Imhotep, one of the Wren’s Nest Ramblers story-tellers who spun one of his favorite Uncle Remus yarns in front of an eager audience.  Today’s story was the Tar-Baby story and all about Brer Rabbit. When telling the tale, he stopped long enough to ask the audience how did fox and bear know that tar-baby wasn’t going to say anything…(silence.)…and then, I answered: “He hasn’t found his voice yet.”…Akbar…”That’s a profound one. Thank you. Let me write that one down.”

His enjoyable performance ended with the Uncle Remus story about how rabbit lost its tail.  If you haven’t heard that one, then perhaps you might want to read the original story or better yet; attend one of the live performance given by Akbar, the very skillful story-teller.

I wanted to stay and learn more, but visiting hours were over. As I walked down the path on top of engraved pavers, I again felt like I was reliving history.

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If you ever get a chance to visit this museum, please do so and enjoy traveling back in time.

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Written and Photographed by Mary Gilmartin, January 13, 2013


Filed under Authors, Books, Museums