Highland County Museum
Located in Highland County, Virginia, the Greek Revival House, also known as Mansion House, was built in 1851. During the Civil War Battle of McDowell on May 8, 1861, the house served as a hospital. Then, the house had become a stagecoach stop on the Staunton to Parkersburg Turnpike and operated as a hotel. After several years,to preserve, create and publish The New History of Highland County, the Highland Historical Society was established in the 1980s. In 2001, the Highland Historical Society purchased the Greek revival house and conducted the restoration and renovation of the house into a local history museum. The Highland County Museum opened on May 7, 2005. The museum houses two exhibit rooms which displays local artifacts and antiques that bring visitors and local community closer to a story of the rural, mountain community of Highland County. Among the exhibit rooms, one exhibit room is dedicated to the Battle of McDowell which displays valuable documentary film in Battle of McDowell. Come and visit there to explore impact of Battle of McDowell on Civil War and on Highland County as well as take a closer look to Highland County’s settlement and development.
Backstory and Context
The Highland County Museum has designed with the museum and the orientation center which housed in a Greek Revival House in the village of McDowell. The museum is dedicated to display the history of Highland County from the beginning day in 1847 through the Battle of McDowell till today. Highland County was formed by the combination of land from the neighboring counties of Bath and Pendleton. This county is a sparsely populated region of rugged mountains and independent settlers. To highlight history of Highland County, the story of settlement and development of this area is displayed in the main exhibit “Uniquely Highland”, which visitors should not miss. Besides, the museum houses interesting exhibit to display the story of the First Families which features pioneering families whose descendants still live in Highland County.
The orientation center is devoted to this first victory of Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign in 1862. Orientation center creates the interesting tour with 20 minutes documentary film on the battle as well as sets up a display of authentically reproduced uniforms and accessories based on those used by Jackson.
Visitors and local communities also discover the markers of Civil War Trails which lead “to interpretive signage behind the McDowell Presbyterian Church and at the battlefield parking lot just east of town”(1). Following an interpreted trail, visitors can visit the area where most intense fighting took place on the top of Sitlington Hill. There are also a Family Research Library and Museum Store are located on the site of the Highland County Museum.
Besides that, there are many following projects that Highland Historical Society and Museum involved in to build up Highland Historical Museum to be the one of most interesting destinations in this area:
_ Surveying and cataloguing all of Highland County’s historic sites and structures
_ Microfilming all of Highland County’s newspapers dating back to the 1800s
_ Collecting Highland genealogical records and local histories
_ Erecting signs to identify the smaller towns in Highland County
_ Supporting and working with other organizations to provide trails, markers, and parking at the site of the McDowell Battlefield
_ Working to save and preserve the McDowell Battlefield in cooperation with the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation
_ Financing the restoration of old and rare Highland County documents.