History center receives grants

BROWNSTOWN — Grants continue to roll in for the Jackson County History Center.

Volunteer Margo Brewer recently announced the nonprofit organization received a $37,000 Indiana Historical Society Heritage Support Grant and a $4,600 Indiana Historical Society Mini Grant.

Heritage Support Grants are made possible by Lilly Endowment Inc. and support local, county and regional historical societies, museums and sites in their important work.

The history center will use that grant for tuckpointing on the exterior of the Ball Memorial Museum and refinishing and sealing the floor inside.

Tuckpointing involves finishing the mortar joints between bricks or stones with a narrow ridge of putty or fine lime mortar.

“I have been wanting to get this done for several years, and every time I think, ‘OK, I can apply for a grant for it, something else comes up,” Brewer said.

Built around 1907, the museum housed a blacksmith shop before later serving as a shoe repair shop. The front room now has a small gift shop along with displays of local artifacts and a setup of old living room furniture. In the middle is a display of wedding dresses from 1890 to 1971, and in the back is a display of old kitchen appliances and furniture.

The museum is named for William “Bock” Ball, who helped revive the Jackson County Historical Society in the 1960s.

Brewer said the building is two bricks thick. Standing inside the front room, she can see light coming through the bricks around the window, so tuckpointing will fix that problem.

“We have to get matching funds (15%), and I’ve applied for that through the Community Foundation (of Jackson County), and hopefully, we get that,” she said. “We’ve applied to get the brick painted (inside the museum) because you can see it has been painted, but because that’s not historically correct, we didn’t get the money for that, so that’s what the matching funds will cover.”

Matt Owens will do the work, and Brewer said that won’t start until after the history center’s annual Heritage Days, which is Sept. 9 to 11.

“We have a year to complete it; however, we need to have it done before the first of the year because there is another $50,000 grant that is available, and we apply for that in March,” she said. “I know what I’m going to apply for. I’ve got another big project that we need to do.”

The Mini Grant will be used to buy new doors for the front entrance of the Frederick Keach Heller Memorial Museum Building.

The current ones have small windows at the top, and the new ones will be all glass like the front door of the Ball Memorial Museum.

“The doors down there are two household doors,” Brewer said. “That building was built with donated stuff, and so there is a post in the middle of it. When you go to move something in or out, you’ve got that in the way. This is going to make it easier. The doors will open, and you’ll be able to see in it. It will be more welcoming. Right now, it’s just a closed-in building, and people don’t know when you’re there and when you’re not.”

The museum, named for a Brownstown family, was built in the 1990s and includes a military room with prehistoric weapons and tools and Vietnam-era items. There also are themed rooms featuring dolls and other toys and vintage clothing.

The history center also recently received a $500 Walmart grant from the Seymour store to celebrate its grand reopening. Brewer said the history center board has yet to decide how to use that money.

At a glance 

The Jackson County History Center is at 105 N. Sugar St., Brownstown.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

For information, call 812-358-2118 or find the Jackson County History Center on Facebook.