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Ellis County Museum

2014 - 2015 Highlights


Ø  Museum visitors for the 2014 - 2015 fiscal year total 6,500 plus 300 – 400 school children.


Ø  Gift Shop – New gift shop items added to the inventory include notecards featuring local architecture and the art of Margaret Eshelman Thompson, notecards of local artists featured in the Waxahachie City Hall Art Program, historic playing cards of various subject matter relating to American history and Mr. Billy Ray Hancock’s publication, “East of the Ellis County Courthouse.”


Ø  Thank you “Window of Opportunity” donors! The museum received $10,120 in individual contributions and $3,924 from “window” fundraisers. The Waxahachie Foundation, Inc. also awarded grants totaling $10,706 for exterior restoration work. All told, the museum raised $24,750 for the building’s much needed window and cornice work.


Ø  Building maintenance and improvements in 2014 – 2015 consisted of the restoration of 49 exterior windows, all metal cornices on the building and the rear entryway leading to the upper floors. FINALLY, after a year and a half of searching for a company to perform this work, Jeff Smith of Ageless Treasures was contacted. Mr. Smith, an excellent restoration contractor and former Waxahachie resident, began work in early November of 2014 and completed the task in early March 2015 at a cost of $43,695. Upon completion of this work, Kenneth Yarbrough was contacted to do repair work to the flat sections (roofs) of the lower metal cornices. Deterioration of these areas was discovered while Jeff was restoring the windows, etc. The cost for the cornice roof repair was $6,923.


Ø  A book signing event was held in August 2014 for Mr. Hancock’s publication “East of the Ellis County Courthouse.” A line formed early and remained until the event ended two hours later and became a class reunion spanning decades. Total sales for evening, $2,065. ALL proceeds from the sale of these books benefit the ECM as Mr. Hancock paid for and donated the publication.


Ø  Wall Work – brick re-pointing and painting. This is the next big project the ECM must undertake. I am happy to elaborate on this. 


Ø  The Brown Bag lunch and history series continued with speakers Clyde Melick (The Growth of Waxahachie), David Smith (Cattle Drives of Texas), Jim West (Nature Photographer), Karen Carreon (Ferris, TX), Sharan Farmer (Bardwell, TX), and Steve Chapman (Early Pioneer Recollections). Each presentation was well attended and the “brown bag” series continues to be a popular museum activity.


Ø  Window displays for 2014 – 2015 include Chautauqua Preservation Society promotion, “Places in the Heart,” Christmas trees, Virginia Duff memorabilia, Valentine’s Day items and Gingerbread Trail promotion. Thanks to Larry and Glinda Felty and Beth Young for their work on these displays.


Ø  Repairs / replacement of equipment in 2014 – 2015 include heating exhaust duct repair work, a new laser printer and a new color printer. The museum’s fire / burglar alarm was repaired and updated. Also, all museum data, historical and operational, is stored and backed up daily to the “cloud” using Dropbox software.


Ø  Other events / projects included an appearance and talk by Johnny Appleseed in conjunction with the Chautauqua annual event, a Lighthouse for Learning program by Ellen Beasley and Shannon Simpson entitled “Dating Your House,” guided tours for Leadership Waxahachie and Mothers Club members, a visit by the Belles and Beaus, and a volunteer appreciation luncheon for our fabulous volunteers.  


Ø  An Ellis County exhibit has been installed in the museum giving a broad overview of the county’s history. Subject matter includes pre-history, early settlement, industry and transportation. Each subject has an information panel and artifacts that relate to the information. This exhibit was a joint effort of me, David Hudgins and John Hamilton.


Ø  Special window displays were set up in conjunction with the Crossroads of Texas movie festival last October. The central window featured old movie stars, projection equipment and a history of the Texas Theater. The side display window focused on the film “Places in the Heart” directed by Robert Benton. A special thanks to Peggy Crabtree for supplying memorabilia and newspaper clippings for the museum to scan and enlarge.


Ø  Ellis County Abstract & Title Company, Matt & Heidi Perkins, the College Street Pub, the Dove’s Nest Restaurant,  H-E-B, Citizens National Bank, and Midlothian Classic Wheels all contributed to assist with Gingerbread Trail underwriting / donations. In addition, Denice Lipscomb once again donated a gorgeous quilt to raffle as part of the Trail fundraiser.


Ø  The ECM received nice free publicity in “Texas Farm & Home” magazine, “Waxahachie NOW” magazine and a “Dallas Morning News” weekend guide article.


Ø  ECM held its second annual Boot Scoot fundraiser for future wall restoration work. David and Pat Smith generously offered the use of their lovely yard and iris garden. Unfortunately, the event was once again moved to the museum due to rain. Nevertheless, it was a fun and successful evening raising $2,605 for wall restoration work.


Ø  Long time museum supporter Virginia Duff passed away in January of 2012. Ms. Duff was an attorney as well as a Texas congresswoman throughout the 1950s. She also had a long career with Mobil Oil. The Ellis County Museum, along with a number of organizations, was listed as a beneficiary in her Will. The museum received numerous artifacts relating to her professional life and family roots in Ferris, Ellis County, Texas as well as financial support from her estate. Her generosity is a great benefit to the museum and ensures the successful operation of the organization for many years to come.


Ø  Ellen Beasley and Margaret Culbertson continue work on the “Waxahachie Architecture Guidebook.” With her research complete, Ms. Beasley returned to Galveston to continue writing the guidebook.


Ø  The ECM now has a Facebook presence so go “like” us. Board member Laurie Wilson and museum volunteer Evelyn Bias maintain the page and add upcoming museum events and historical tidbits, photos, etc.


Ø  47th Annual Gingerbread Trail Event. The Trail is ECM’s annual fundraising event to provide operating income. It consists of historic home tour, arts & crafts festival, antique market, preview tour and car show. Trail chairman for the 2015 Trail was Ms. Beth Young. The 2015 Gingerbread Trail was financially the best Trail in many years, netting $16,889. Other local groups augment the event with various activities, truly making the Gingerbread Trail a community event.


Ø  And finally, a special thanks to the performers for the program tonight….it should be quite entertaining and educational. The thespians include: Susie Toal as Willia Getzendaner; Judy Howard as Margaret A.F.M.P.E. Peevey; Karen Esberger as Zilpha Newton S. Mullin; Peggy Crabtree as Sophia K. Parks. Narrated by Pam Wilhoite.