Historical Society Buys Downtown Property
The Fulton County Historical Society solved a display and storage problem last week that has plagued it for a lot of years when it took ownership of the Lincoln Way Antiques building on Lincoln Way East in downtown McConnellsburg.
Space limitations at the society’s museum home in the Fulton House, which is owned by the borough of McConnellsburg and houses the borough office, have constrained the organization’s ability to acquire objects and materials, mostly by donation and sometimes by purchase, that tell the history of Fulton County.
The society has been located at the Fulton House since July 1976 and is limited to about 40 to 50 percent of the building’s total space. According to President Dick Miller, the organization has invested about $300,000 over the years in Fulton House improvements, upkeep, maintenance and its log cabin addition. In exchange, the organization pays no rent or utility charges.
Help with future maintenance issues at the Fulton House, a limestone inn and tavern built in 1793, will be limited, however, due in part to the society’s small operating budget and that most present-day grant funding opportunities are available only to organizations that own the buildings they occupy.
Miller said the Historical Society has been looking for a building to purchase to expand its display and storage space for a while and that owning the Lincoln Way Antiques building will give the society the chance to apply for grant funding.
The building’s current first-floor tenants, Lincoln Way Antiques and the Old Towne Restaurant, are staying and remain open for business. The two second-floor rental units are occupied. Rents collected from the 209-211 Lincoln Way East property will provide the society with income.
Although there are no plans now for the Historical Society to leave the Fulton House, Miller said, there are plans for an Albert Stoner Tin Shop installation on the east side of the building by the antiques store’s main entrance as soon as the space is ready. Albert Stoner was a tinsmith who owned a store and a tin shop at 110 Lincoln Way West during the late 19th/early 20th century. The Historical Society’s museum collection includes many items made by Stoner.
Immediate plans for the first floor include checking the electrical system, painting the ceiling, and installing electric heating units, new lighting, laminate flooring and a security system. Work will begin in January, and the society recently learned that it was awarded $27,000 from the Arthur and Ruth Schmidt Community Trust that will be used to jumpstart the project.
The newly purchased property totals a little more than 8,000 square feet. Many older residents remember the brick structure as the home of G. C. Murphy, a popular five and dime store chain that operated in Mc- Connellsburg from the mid-20th century to the early 1990s.
President Miller said the Historical Society would welcome help from the community, whether it be donations of money, helping with renovation work at the building or ideas about its long-term use. Miller can be contacted at 485-3412.
Meanwhile, Lincoln Way Antiques and Old Towne Restaurant are open for business. Owner Anthony Fetterhoff says he plans to hold an auction in January in the rear of the antiques store.