Our season began with the Seventh Annual Appreciation Event held at the Fort Valley Fire Hall on April 26, featuring a special program commemorating the 100th anniversary of U.S. entry into World War I, “Fort Valley during the Great War, in Story and Song.” The program was narrated by Hank Zimmerman, with performances by the Dorham family and Tony and Eli Selby. We will be hard pressed to find an adequate follow-up performance for next April’s Appreciation Event.
When the Museum opened (a month late because of problems with unsafe flooring in the Old Brick Church), we were all delighted with the bright new floor, painted walls, and thoughtful exhibit on Fort Valley during World Wars I and II, created by curator Dorothy Corder. This year’s Capital Funds Campaign, along with the Ice Cream Social – with its good crowds and excellent music – were again outstanding fundraisers. For all of this, we send out a resounding “thank you” to the Fort community. In particular, we’re grateful for our group of docents, without whom the Museum could not exist.
Looking forward, the Museum Board is seeking additional docents who are able to make a solid commitment to be on hand for 2 or 3 afternoons during the 2018 season. Our faithful docent scheduler, Mary Ann Huffman, has spent untold hours this year working to fill the an- nual schedule. Because the Board hopes to make Trinity Church as well as the Old Brick Church available to the public next year on a more regular basis, our need for docents will increase. Please think about joining our faithful crew. We need you!
In 1830, Fort Valley farmer Daniel Munch donated a two acre piece of land, which he specified be used for a church and school. He also asked that the church be known as a Free Church, one that was open to all Protestant denominations. It was here that The Old Brick Church, at Dry Run, was built. The one-room church was made of locally fired red bricks and featured an upstairs gallery built for slaves who might attend church with their masters. Over the next century, the church was home to at least five different denominations, and was in constant use. After the final congregation worshiping there built its own church in 1949, the Old Brick Church became a community meeting place.
By the 1970s, the building was becoming run-down. In 1972, the Old Brick Church trustees decided that the space should be used for a museum. The building was then re-deeded to the trustees of an entirely new community organization, the Fort Valley Museum, Inc. On the weekend of July 4, 1974 the Fort Valley Museum opened its doors to the public for the very first time. Since that time it has served the Fort Valley community by gathering, preserving, and showcasing items from its past. In 2004, under new leadership, the Museum was painted and spruced up. Its expanded activities included an Oral History program and the first Ice Cream Social. In December of 2008, the trustees of the Trinity Brethren Church generously deeded their church building and its surrounding property to the Museum. The Trinity Church space now houses displays on the history of Fort Valley Churches and organizations, an office, and the nucleus of an archive. Plans are under way for a “Hands-on Children’s Room” and a Genealogy Room.
The Fort Valley Museum is a bright and welcoming community museum that depicts Fort Valley’s past history. Exhibits include: The Church; The One-room School, The Fort’s 19th century Cold-blast Iron Furnaces (along with the history of cast iron stove plates found locally), The Seven Fountains Resort (1850-1888), The Home, The Farm, The Country Store, Music in the Fort, and a recently donated collection of local Shenandoah Valley Pottery.
In addition to the original Museum building, the Old Brick Church (circa 1830), the Trinity Brethren Church (1904) on Dry Run Road became a part of the Museum in 2008. This lovely old church is open to the public on special occasions and by request. It currently houses a religious and organizational history of the Fort, and a newly created spinning exhibit. In progress are a portrait room and an archive and genealogical resource room.
The Fort Valley Museum is open each Saturday and Sunday from Memorial Day Weekend through October.
Hours: 1:00-4:00 p.m. on Saturdays and 2:00-5:00 p.m. on Sundays.
8631 Fort Valley Road; the intersection of the main Fort Valley Road with Dry Run Road.
From Front Royal or Strasburg, take Rte. 55 to Rte 678, Fort Valley Road. Turn south on 678, travel about 10 miles. The museum is on the right at Dry Run Road. From Edinburg (U.S. 11 north), turn right (east) on Rte 675 to T-intersection at King’s Crossing. Turn left (north) on Rte. 678, go about 8 miles. The museum is on the left at Dry Run Road.
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Website development and maintaince contributed by Hank Zimmerman