REMEMBER WHEN: A Walk Through Three Notch Museum
The Three Notch Museum is a facility in downtown Andalusia that some of the readers of this column may not have had the opportunity to visit. On April 1, 1983, the Covington Historical Society signed a 99-year lease with the Andalusia and Conecuh Railroad for the old Central of Georgia property at 125 Central Street (later named Historic Central Street). It was the desire of the society to restore and preserve the building (the oldest remaining wooden building in downtown Andalusia constructed in the spring of 1900 after the trains arrived in September 1899) converting the premises to a local history museum as an historical landmark. The late Margaret Studstill West, head librarian at the time at the Andalusia Public Library, suggested the idea for a museum which need she recognized.
The society did not waste any time completing the application for the property to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The listing date was 8-30-1984 for the utilitarian style board-and-batten structure. The name Three Notch Museum was selected by the CHS, because the Three Notch Trail is synonymous with Andalusia’s journey through history. It is remembered that the late Sidney Waits suggested that name.
A Museum Committee organized task forces for carrying out the museum project including restoration, fund raising, publicity, and collection/display. Society members along with many volunteers worked to establish the museum which opened in 1985 for the public. The admission price has always been FREE.
Many items of historical significance are on display including railroad memorabilia, military and war items, business items, farming implements, political memorabilia, church and school memorabilia, Indian artifacts, a treasure of old photos, and various assorted items featured in rotating and permanent displays.
The museum complex today includes not only the depot but also the H. B. Little Country Store, the old River Falls Post Office, the Clark Family Log Cabin, a corn crib, two cabooses, and two box cars where one is occupied by the Mark Gibson Model Train Exhibit, a favorite of many enthusiastic children.
A gift shop features “Old Timey” cookbooks, museum mugs, historic note cards, and books by local authors. Funds go to support the museum. Each year the register is signed by visitors from a number of states and sometimes foreign countries.
More specifically, when visitors browse through the artifacts, they find interesting and sometimes surprising memorabilia that relates to Covington County history such as a World War I helmet, a WW II mess kit, old medical tools, city mayors’ and county probate judges’ pictures, a spinning wheel, a family farmhouse table, a cotton basket, a WW II Red Cross uniform, an extensive vintage radio collection, an old camera collection, the bottle collection, moonshine jugs, old phone books, old city directories, the Horseshoe Lumber Company collection, the Alatex panoramic photos & other textile factory memento, shark teeth and sand dollars from the Conecuh River, a Campfire Girls uniform, an ornery mule bit, an ice box and milk bottles, the original city flag, a 2-handle saw, a WW II casket shipment box, the original Magnolia Cemetery iron entrance marker, a model presidential airplane as flown by Pleasant Home native and pilot for Lyndon B. Johnson – Gen. Underwood Cross, antique toys, a RR message stick, the dunce chair in the one-room schoolhouse, an authentic Three-Notch marker, and school pictures from many one-room schoolhouses and school buildings in the county.
Because the museum is on the verge of being too crowded and storage space limited, there are plans in the near future to collaborate with the City of Andalusia to move many artifacts and displays up the hill to the former Count Darling Building; therefore, the museum complex and historic district will be expanded to include a main street venue.
There are many organizations, clubs, individuals, former residents, and interested citizens that deserve much appreciation for their interest and support during the past 35 years. Many devoted volunteers over this period of time have worked tirelessly offering their time and talent. All Covington Countians should take pride in Andalusia’s local history museum and the society’s efforts to preserve the past while looking forward to a promising future.
The museum opening hours at the present time are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, 9:00 – 2:00 and by appointment only for school groups, senior citizen groups, class and family reunions. Docent Linda Castleberry will be there to welcome visitors as the past comes alive and as they Remember When. One is encouraged to call ahead to confirm a visit – 334-222-0674. Come on lunch break or enjoy a picnic on the porch of the log cabin.
To support the museum project, individuals are urged to
join the membership of the society as a club member or as a “Friend of the Museum.” Annual dues are $25. and may be remitted to CHS, P. O. Box 1582, Andalusia, AL. 36420. Memorials and Honorariums are accepted as well.
Sue Bass Wilson, AHS Class of 1965, is a local real estate broker and long-time member of the Covington Historical Society. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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