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Ellis County Museum

2013 - 2014 Highlights



Ø  Museum visitors for the 2013 - 2014 fiscal year total 6,500 plus 300 – 400 school children.

Ø  Gift Shop – New gift shop items added to the inventory include Mr. Billy Ray Hancock’s compilation of the Junior Historian’s publication “This Was Ellis County” and his most recent publication, “East of the Ellis County Courthouse.” The museum held a book signing in February for “This Was Ellis County” and will host a book signing in the near future for “East of the Ellis County Courthouse.” The additions of these books to the gift shop are invaluable historically and financially. Mr. Hancock sponsored their publication and donated them for the museum to sell.

 Ø  Thank you “Window of Opportunity” donors! The museum has received $8,170 in individual contributions and $3,924 from “window” fundraisers. Special thanks to David and Paula Hudgins for the “Mississippi Shoo Fly” event and to David and Pat Smith for “Boot Scootin’ in the Irises” event. All contributors are listed in a “Golden Book” in the ECM for public recognition. Once the project has been completed, a more formal, permanent recognition will be installed. The Waxahachie Foundation, Inc. also awarded a grant in the amount of $5,000 for exterior restoration work. All told, the museum has raised $17,094 for the building’s much needed face lift.  

Ø  Building maintenance and improvements in 2013 – 2014 consist of  1) the addition of central heat and air conditioning to two rooms on the 2nd floor to store artifacts in a controlled environment. The size of the HVAC unit will allow for expansion in the future. This work was completed in November 2013 at a cost of $7,268. 2) In the Spring of 2014, interior brick repointing was completed in the front room of the 3rd floor of the museum on the west and north walls. All plaster was removed from these walls and each joint was cleaned and scraped with mortar then reapplied. This work was completed in slightly over three weeks at a cost of $8,000. The work was performed in accordance with recommendations of Sparks Engineering in 2011 suggesting that if maintenance was not performed on these walls, the museum would be looking at similar structural issues with the front wall that it experienced with the back wall.  

Ø  With the improvements on the 2nd and 3rd floors, cleanup and reorganization of the contents of these areas has been a priority in 2013 – 2014. Special thanks to Glinda Felty, David Hudgins, Carol Farrar, Sylvia Smith and her Mormon volunteers. Sylvia and the Mormons have worked tirelessly over the past several months cleaning the rooms and reorganizing the artifacts. 

Ø  The ECM’s renovation and painting of the exterior of its 1889 Masonic Lodge structure is still in process. The windows and cornices need painting and repair as do the masonry walls. Window work was last done about 1999 and wall work about 1981. This project has been frustrating and slow moving but we are making headway in getting this work started. I will elaborate on the exterior restoration/renovation.  

Ø  The Brown Bag lunch and history series continued with speakers Wendel Dickason (Base Ball in the 1860s), George Cole (The Waxahachie Powder Mill), Scott Green (General Edward H. Tarrant), Elmerine Bell (The Remnants of St. Mary Cemetery), Jim Templin (Ennis History and Personalities), and Rusty Brenner (Texas Cemetery Restoration). Each presentation was well attended and the “brown bag” series continues to be a popular museum activity.  

Ø  Christmas tree display set up for Victorian Christmas on the Square. Display featured a number of different tree styles in the central window (Marie Jones, Shannon Simpson) and a special display of antique toys in the side window.  

Ø  Repairs / replacement of equipment in 2013 – 2014 include a new air conditioning unit and coil for the 1st floor of the museum ($4,265) and a new main computer and scanner. No information was lost due to regular data backups but the switch to Windows 8 provided a number of challenges with antiquated software and hardware.  

Ø  Other events / projects included an appearance and talk by Henry Ford in conjunction with the Chautauqua annual event, a book signing by author Anita Dickason in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination and the digitization of every Waxahachie High School Yearbook in the museum’s collection. The digitization project was performed free of charge by an outfit in Oklahoma.  

Ø  Side window displays in 2013 – 2014 were rotated a number of times thanks to Glinda Felty, Beth Young and Claudia Morris.  

Ø  Near the end of the 2012 – 2013 fiscal year, ECM received a generous grant from the Ellis County Honor Flight Group. In 2012 – 2013, this grant was used to add additional audio visual capabilities to our "Home Front" exhibit and to purchase audio visual equipment for museum presentations. In the 2013 - 2014 year, remaining funds were used to purchase archival storage supplies for textiles, photos and paper artifacts.  

Ø  Ellis County Abstract & Title Company, Representative Jim Pitts, Matt & Heidi Perkins, the College Street Pub, the Dove’s Nest Restaurant,  Citizens National Bank, Midlothian Classic Wheels and Blue Bell Ice Cream 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  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 and into the early 60s. 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. The financial support included a portion of her estate settlement, a certificate of deposit and ExxonMobil stocks. Her generosity is a great benefit to the museum and ensures the successful operation of the organization for many years to come. Ms. Duff’s generosity has continued to benefit the ECM through the 2013 – 2014 fiscal year.  

Ø  Ellen Beasley and Margaret Culbertson continue work on the “Waxahachie Architecture 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  46th 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 (new), preview tour and car show. Trail chairman for the 2014 Trail was Ms. Beth Young. The 2014 Gingerbread Trail was financially the best Trail since 2006, netting $14,858, edging out the 2013 Trail by $387. 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 “old biddies” for the program tonight….it should be quite entertaining and hopefully educational. The thespians include: Sylvia Smith as Polly Goodloe Douglas; Beverly McCullough as Mary Jane Howe; Judy Howard as Rachel Lewis Peevey; Margaret Felty as Anna Eddy Hawkins and Beverly Robinson as Nancy Rogers. Let the fun begin!