Museum plans special anniverary for 30th anniversary

by Janis West

In September the Hot Spring County Museum will celebrate 30 years as the gatherer of Malvern, Arkansas and U.S. history. A special celebration is planned 4-7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, at the museum. A tremendous amount has happened since 1978 when the first HSCM Commission was selected.

The Commission was given a house filled with many local historical stories, but a place to put the house was needed. The HSC/Malvern Library leased us the land next to them. Our first fundraising efforts was for $16,000 to set up the foundation and move the house in one piece. That was a great start — now to raise funds for restoring the house. A quilt celebrating the Sesquicentennial of Arkansas (1979) generated funds that brought history lovers to us.

Past the point of no return, we next sought out sponsors for the renovation of each room. While all of this was taking place, it was necessary to accept artifacts and document stories. All this was intertwined with learning how to properly display and care for the museum as a non-profit business. From the beginning the museum was to belong to the citizens of Hot Spring County, and admission would be free with donations accepted.

The doors of the Boyle House/Hot Spring County Museum opened Sept. 13, 1981. More than 200 guests filled the house and were greeted by volunteer hostesses/hosts in each room. We opened the museum with bills paid thanks to the generosity of the community members that gave their time and talent. Individuals, businesses and industries along with a grant from the Arkansas Department of Heritage complemented the $10,000 that Stella Boyle Smith deposited in our account.

The renovation expense totaled more than $70,000. A blessing came our way when Mrs. Smith bequeathed a $100,000 trust to the HSCM. The trust is set up for the interest generated each year to become a part of the budget. In addition, funds from annual membership drives and grants make up our budget. Other projects require fundraising. In 1986 during the Sesquicentennial of Arkansas, school tours were added to our programming.

Thousands of students have enjoyed these tours, which occur annually. Hundreds of volunteers have told the stories, served refreshments and played games with the students. In 1990, the HSCM Commission accepted an 1876 two-room dog trot log cabin, a gift from Purity George. This was the homestead of Mrs. George’s great-grandparents, Westley and Nancy McVale. Funds were raised to move the cabin from the Tigre Community in the county to the backyard of the Boyle House.

The addition of the cabin enhanced our historical presentation. The cost of moving the cabin was $8,000. Within a year we were sitting on the porch sharing with students. Today, one room of the cabin is set up as a schoolhouse. This cabin was dedicated in September 1990. In 2009, we were gifted an 1868 one-room log cabin located on Walco Road. This cabin was the original home of John Crockett Gibbs and his wife, Serna.

As the family grew, the house grew around the cabin. The Gibbs Cabin was moved to the backyard area, with the cost of moving and restoring at $12,500. Many donated their time and talents. This cabin was dedicated Oct. 4, 2009. Many descendents attended the dedication.

The museum belongs to the citizens of Hot Spring County and is managed and directed by a commission of five people and a non-voting treasurer. Among its duties, the commission has the responsibility to generate funds. (We receive no funds from the city or county.) Commissioners are citizens of Hot Spring County – all are talented persons, each giving of their time and talents to preserve the history of our county and state.