ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The museums in Belmont County are once again welcoming visitors to discover the history of the area. Read on to learn a little about each museum, as well as location and hours, and plan to discover Belmont County’s "strong roots."
Belmont County Sheriff’s Residence Museum
101 E. Main St., St Clairsville; 740-695-4359
Hours: Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Formerly under Ohio law, the sheriff was required to live on the premises of the jail. From 1888 until 1976, all sheriffs and their family lived in what was called the sheriff’s residence, connected to the jail. The Victorian Romanesque architectural style building was designed by noted architect Joseph Warren Yost and matches the style of the attached jail and the adjacent Belmont County Courthouse, both of which he also designed. Yost was instrumental in organizing the Association of Ohio Architects and had the distinction of being named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1889.
The structure, fully restored to its historical significance, now houses the county’s past. In addition to displays about the county’s sheriffs, each room houses displays from the county’s communities representing their industries, landmarks, and important historical figures. The displays bring the spirit and history of each area together under one roof.
Inside are artifacts and photos of what made this country great. From the designer of the USS Constitution to a major role in the glass industry, people can discover hidden gems that Belmont County is proud to hold in its history.
Belmont County Military Veterans Museum
101 E. Barrister St. Belmont (Belmont American Legion Post 312); https://bcmvm.org
Hours: Thursday-Saturday, 1 to 4 p.m.
The Belmont County Military Veterans Museum is the home of artifacts and history pertaining to the service provided by veterans from Belmont County and beyond.
The building was the location of the Belmont United Methodist Church up to 1919. The Belmont American Legion organized in Belmont in 1920 with World War I veterans and met in another building near the train station. After World War II, they bought this building and added a kitchen, front porch, and a room across the west side of the front where smaller meetings were held. At the peak time of membership there were 155 members after World War II.
The unmarked graves of Joseph Wright (founder of Wrightstown later changed to Belmont) and other founders of the first Quaker church in town are behind the building. Prior to construction of the frame structure of the current building, there was a log Quaker meeting house on this site.
The purpose of the museum is to honor those who have served our country and to educate future generations that the price of freedom is not free.
The building is handicap accessible. Recent additions include flag poles and the construction of an honor wall in front of the museum. There is no admission fee, however, donations are welcomed.
Belmont County Victorian Mansion Museum
532 N. Chestnut St., Barnesville; www.belmontcountymuseum.com
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.
Visitors of all ages thrill to the splendor and elegance of this award-winning mansion It was built for John and Sarah Bradfield in the Romanesque style and was completed in 1893. Twenty-six rooms are skillfully restored and furnished with the finest of the Victorian era. Superbly carved oak fretwork, butternut and hand-carved wood mantels are just a few of the finely crafted features inside. Over a century ago a great architect worked with gifted craftsmen of the day from 1888 through 1893 to create this fine mansion.
It remained in the Bradfield family until 1966 when the Belmont County Historical Society acquired the property and established a museum.
Guided tours are conducted May 1 through October 1, Wednesday through Sunday, from 1 to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for ages 6-18. For information or to make an appointment, call 740-425-2926.
National Imperial Glass Museum
3200 Belmont St., Bellaire; www.imperialglass.org
Hours: Thurs.-Sat. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This museum is dedicated to preserving the history of the Imperial Glass Corp., paying tribute to its employees, educating the public, and providing research opportunities. For 80 years Imperial was one of the largest handcrafted glass companies in America and was located at Imperial Plaza on Belmont St. NIGM is a "must visit" for glass enthusiasts
On display at the Museum are many fine examples of Imperial glassware created from 1904 to 1984 including Candlewick, Cape Cod, carnival, milk glass, slag and more.
Begin your visit to the Museum by viewing a video presentation tracing Imperial’s 80-year history. After touring the glass display rooms, take the time to peruse the gallery of portraits, original photographs and advertising materials. These will provide an additional insight into Imperial’s history, including some of the people who played a significant role in creating such beautiful glassware.
In a separate display area are numerous tools and implements originally used in Imperial’s Mould Shop. This specific display has been coordinated by Island Mould Co. of Wheeling, WV. Other original implements and glass from Ohio Valley Glass and Artifacts Museum (OVGAM) can also be viewed.
The museum is open April through October, Thursday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. or by appointment for groups. Admission is $3 per person. The building is handicapped accessible and there is a gift shop. For information, call 740-671-3971 or e-mail: email@example.com
The Sedgwick House Museum
627 Hanover St., Martins Ferry; 740-633-5046; Open by appointment
The Sedgwick House Museum was established by the Martins Ferry Area Historical Society in 1970 to house historical artifacts pertaining to the Martins Ferry area. The house, constructed approximately 1870 for the Henry Helling family, was the home of the Leroy Sedgwick family from 1900 until the 1960s. A visitor to the museum can view items that range in time from pioneers such as the Zane and Martin families, to the space shuttle. Exhibits include period furniture, glassware, textiles, school and sports memorabilia, and commercial and industrial materials.
An upstairs bedroom contains antique furniture, quilts and clothing, including a dresser and mirror that belonged to Jonathan Zane and a mirror that belonged to Betty Zane.
In the second-floor school room, visitors can find memorabilia from Martins Ferry schools such as pictures, yearbooks, crayons, textbooks and paddles.
The business and industry room featuring carpeting that was in the old Fenray Theater, a desk from the Selby and Reed drugstore, bottles from the Belmont Brewery, old adding machines, and signs from various businesses that were located in Martins Ferry.
The town had its inception in 1787 when the ground upon which the city is located was purchased by Captain Absalom Martin, one of the surveyors of the Seven Ranges of the Northwest Territory. Absalom started operating a ferry in 1789. Thus, the name Martins Ferry. In 1835, his son, Ebenezer, platted and laid out the town.
Underground Railroad Museum
121 High St., Flushing; www.ugrf.org
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Underground Railroad Museum features an extensive collection of publications, books, memorabilia and other articles. The museum was founded in 1993 by Dr. John Mattox and his late wife, Rosalind to preserve the past for future generations. The exhibits portray what is known about slavery and the Underground Railroad in Ohio, and presents an understanding of the culture in the 1800’s. Much of the information and artifacts Mattox has gathered came from local sources.
Mattox and the museum were accepted to the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program.
Visitors to the museum will hear stories from Mattox and are encouraged to tell him their own stories and to ask questions as they peruse the 15,000-18,000 objects, artifacts and documents of the three-story building. His goal is to demonstrate what we all have in common today rather than placing blame and to prompt young people to seek additional awareness and wisdom.
The Ohio Valley area was very active in the Underground Railroad during the 19th century, having been home to many Quaker settlers who were ardent abolitionists.
Donations appreciated. Take a virtual tour of the museum at ugrrf.org
Watt Center for History and the Arts
515 Watt Ave., Barnesville; www.facebook.com/WattCenterforHistoryArts
Open by appointment May-October
The Watt Center for History and the Arts provides a museum to preserve and display artifacts illustrating the rich historical record of business, industry and agriculture of Barnesville, and the surrounding area.
Art displays and classes are offered to encourage appreciation and creativity.
Visit this unusual building that served as offices for the Watt Car & Wheel Co., founded in 1863. Discover six unique vaults, original wood paneling, many lovely tin ceiling designs, and a steam whistle that was used to signal the weather for local communities.
Explore displays featuring nuggets of local history and small-town retail business. Exhibits change periodically.
A Bicentennial Marker was dedicated in front of the building on May 16, 2003, commemorating the history of The Watt Car & Wheel Company. The company was known throughout the world for nearly a century, not only for the production of mine cars and self-oiling wheels, but also for ore and rail cars and fabricated longwall mining equipment. At one time, The Watt Car & Wheel Co. maintained sales offices in New York, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Birmingham, Pittsburgh and Huntington, W.Va.
On display at the museum are many of the company’s records including the original patents that gave the company its start; the hand-written minute books of the corporation’s board of directors; many of its product drawings, including a selection of glass negatives, and an assortment of tools, molds and other items. The company, which started as the Watt Mining Car Wheel Co., was sold to a German firm in 1966 and continued to operate under the Watt name until 1996 when it closed. The firm’s grounds and various buildings were given to the village of Barnesville after its closing, and the Watt Center proponents negotiated a 99-year lease on the beautiful and distinct office building which stands as a continuing memorial to the Watt family and to the Barnesville residents who worked there over more than a century.
For information about the county’s museums, events, and other attractions, visit www.visitbelmontcounty.com or call 740-695-4359.