JEFFERSON — Since 2005, the Mountain Farm Life Museum located in Ashe County Park has been growing and expanding to help educate children and adults on the history of farm life from many years ago.
The museum is currently operated by volunteers Bobby Absher, Lee Beckworth, Bill Hart, Charlie King, Robin King and Kenneth Richardson.
The group came together 12 years ago to discuss and figure out a way to preserve farm items for children in the community.
“The main driving force behind why we did this was to collect and preserve equipment, tools and that sort of thing,” Beckworth said. “The idea was so kids especially would be able to see the way farm life used to be.”
The building the museum currently sits in was previously the Jefferson Elementary School gymnasium which wasn’t being used at the time the group was searching for a museum location. The abandoned gym belonged to the county commissioners who agreed to allow the building to be used for the museum and also funded the cost of materials.
Labor and construction work was done solely by volunteers and in Oct. 2005, the museum took in their first item, an antique wagon.
The building now hosts a variety of farm machinery, tools, a restored one-room log cabin, a collection of mountain music and paintings by Florence Thomas Art School.
Some of the items include a Nissan Wagon built in Winston Salem in 1913, a music gallery featuring old-time and bluegrass bands with Ashe County connections, an antique tool collection, and a 1926 produce farm truck.
Many of the items are from Ashe County while others come from surrounding counties and throughout the mountain region. Items featured in the museum have either been donated or have been loaned from people of the community.
“Since we’re from a rural and agricultural type area people like to come in and reminisce about the way it used to be,” Beckworth said. “The stuff is here and its preserved and hopefully as the years go by people will appreciate that its here for them to see.”
Around three years ago, the museum expanded in order to hold larger items. A room was added onto the current structure and now houses large farm machinery that would have taken up too much floor space in the original museum area.
The facility has little overhead as volunteers take turns opening up the museum each Sunday.
Beckworth said he eventually would like to receive enough funding in the future to be able to open the museum on Saturdays in addition to Sunday afternoons.
The museum is open April through November each Sunday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
According to Beckworth, the museum also opens for special occasions and has done so for the Ashe County Bluegrass and Old Time Fiddlers Convention, school groups, home economics classes and quilt maker organizations.
The museum is located at 527 Ashe Park Road in Jefferson. For more information or to schedule a group tour, call 336-982-2401.
Hannah Myers can be reached at 336-846-7164 or on Twitter @cmedia_hmyers.