Rector Museum Preps for Labor Day Weekend Opening

Thursday, June 28, 2018
Rector Community Museum board members Marvin Gatewood (left) and Bill Rabjohn work on the glass brick wall project
TD photo/Jane Gatewood

“One way or another, the Rector Community Museum will be open during the 2018 Labor Day weekend (Friday, Aug. 31 through Monday, Sept. 3),” said director Johnny Williams. “We want everyone to see what we’ve been doing with the funds raised for the museum. The board believes the public will be very pleased and as excited as we are with the progress.”

Since the Rector Community Museum Inc. board assumed ownership of the Underwood building on Main Street in Rector, board members have made decisions resulting in gigantic improvements, great strides in repairs and even saving portions of the building from collapse due to water damage and general neglect.

“It’s taken several years to accomplish these goals,” Williams said. “Volunteers have stepped forward and helped us inside with many small tasks. We are so grateful to Mitchell Roofing for giving us a very fair price for roof repair.”

He noted this is the first time in years the building has been totally in the dry.

Currently, the great room of the Underwood building, which served as the furniture showroom, has been partitioned. The main portion of the building will be used for showcasing museum artifacts in display cases, some of which have been donated by Keith and Jan Hill from Hill Gift Shop. Plans are to install LED track lighting activated by motion as visitors browse the various displays. Other display cases have been purchased by Williams and will be perfect for spreading out the now cramped artifacts. Items will be more coordinated and more visible. Williams observed that this main display area will be five times larger than the entire space now occupied at the back of the Rector Public Library.

The room that served Underwood Furniture as an office will be for military display with uniforms showcased on mannequins to be donated by a Rector family. If the area proves too small, it will be utilized as a small library with historical books and other materials and the military section would be housed in another special location.

An ADA accessible restroom with a glass block window will fill the area behind the library. An emergency exit door will be at the back of the building.

The stairway leading to the second story has been partitioned-off and will have a door for staff access. To control temperature at this time, the upstairs will serve for additional storage. The back portion of the Underwood building which was used for deliveries will remain as it exists today.

One portion is not being used at this time, but comments have been made to the board encouraging them to consider this area as a theater/movie room. It would introduce visitors to the history of Rector and highlight the various display areas. Such an endeavor, a museum spokesperson said, would necessitate a separate fund-raising project after the main display area is complete and the move to Main Street has been accomplished.

Plans for the Rector Community Museum have been made gradually with the board meeting quarterly with called meetings as necessary. Funds are from donations and the board spends according to money raised. Board member Marvin Gatewood is serving as leader in the interior work which includes contact with suppliers, plumbers, electricians and city helpers. Don Kirklin leveled the side of the museum at the alley by donating his time and backhoe. Bill Rabjohn, board member, assisted with building the glass block window. The glass blocks had been rescued from the Rector Elementary School and gymnasium at the time they were razed. A few glass tiles are not being used and some people may wish to purchase them to serve as keepsakes or memorabilia of their school. They’ll be available during Labor Day. Other salvaged items are being stored at the Underwood building.

Barton Lumber Company has not only donated multiple gallons of paint for the interior but also restroom fixtures. The company also gave the museum a good price on construction materials and delivered them to the project site. Gatewood and Williams worked to design and lay out the restroom area and other back areas of the building. Volunteer Brad Carter assisted Gatewood in drywalling the main area. The walls are 40 feet long and the ceiling is 11 and one-half inch high.

Williams indicated none of this work could be accomplished without people who love Rector, who volunteer their time and expertise and donate money so the board can buy necessary supplies. “If you have not had opportunity to pitch in and help with volunteer labor or money,” Williams says, “It’s your turn. Tag- You’re it! We need a workforce.”

He continued, “Please call me at 870-595-4033 to volunteer and to donate to the cause. You can be part of the excitement in creating this Rector showcase on Main Street.” As previously reported, Rector will be home to the largest community museum in the entire northeast Arkansas area, a real source of pride for Rector.

Rector Community Museum maintains a Facebook page for more information. Donations may be mailed to Rector Community Museum P.O. Box 313, Rector, Ark., 72461. The museum maintains a 501-C3 status for non-profit agencies with all donations being tax deductible.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: