Rector Community Museum Hosts Regional Meeting

Thursday, June 14, 2018
Pictured in front of the Underwood building, future home of the museum, are from left: Marvin Gatewood, Richard Spilman, Angela Ryland and Johnny Williams.
TD photo/Jane Gatewood

Rector Community Museum served as host for the Northeast District Museum Quarterly Meeting on June 11, beginning with lunch at Freddy’s. Angela Ryland, representative for the northeast district to the Arkansas Museum Association, chaired the meeting and welcomed also Richard Spilman, director of the Delta Cultural Center in Helena. Ryland is director of the Cotton Plant Historical Museum.

Director Johnny Williams, along with museum board members Glenna Bookout, Donald Gibbs, Marvin Gatewood, and Joey Pruett welcomed Mayor Teresa Roofe for the afternoon. During the meeting, Ryland took time to inform the local board of the recent activity of the Arkansas Museum Association, discussing meeting times and locations and grant writing. She also reviewed the difference between state-funded museums, such as the Delta Cultural Cente,r and locally funded museums which survive on grants, donations and gifts. She also discussed the state museum association’s connection with Dr. Ruth Hawkins of Arkansas State University and the Arkansas Delta Byways projects.

Toward the end of the meeting and lunch, Williams was asked to give an update on the progress toward moving the Rector museum to the Underwood building. Williams stated that through donations, memorials, gifts and a $2000 grant, the museum board had been able to repair and refurbish at least three-quarters of the roof for the 10,000 square-foot building. He also indicated no problems are occurring in the remaining quarter of the structure.

Currently, Marvin Gatewood is representing the board as the construction and repair coordinator for the interior work at the Underwood building. He contacts contractors to get work accomplished and has framed the new ADA restroom which is now ready for sheetrock.

With volunteer help and museum funds earmarked for construction, the museum board has been able to accomplish much. Thirty-eight feet of partitioned walls, prep work for plumbing for the restroom, and enclosing the stairway to control the environment in the space has happened within the past three weeks.

“Johnny Williams drove the first nail for the ADA restroom walls,” Gatewood added.

A quote from a licensed plumbing contractor is in hand and work in that regard will start shortly. Installed by Erick Shavalia, a new electrical distribution panel will supply power for all lighting. Williams and Gatewood indicated that by July 1, the interior will be ready for paint, after a general clean-up of the space. They also noted many volunteers are needed for the clean-up portion of this important community project.

Williams’ goal is to have the interior ready for moving days by the early part of August and have set-up of displays with the NE Arkansas Museum Association’s help following quickly. With this in mind, he's looking for a soft opening during the Labor Day weekend in Rector.

Williams noted he is excited to report the tremendous progress that is being made and knows that more donations will be coming in when people see the progress that has been made since the first of the year.

Many accolades were given to Williams, and his board, regarding the new facility and the progress the board has made. In addition, Ryland noted that to accomplish what has occurred thus far, “many people love Rector – it’s obvious in everything you have that showcases your town.”

“This museum will be the largest in Northeast Arkansas, the only community museum in Clay County, and a source of pride for the citizens of Rector,” the visitors concluded. “With it being on Main Street, it will serve as a cornerstone for future improvements and development.”

Donations and volunteers are always needed, and appreciated, toward the effort.

Those wanting to contact Williams may do so at 870-595-4033 or may email

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