After a long hiatus due to the pandemic, the Fort Valley Museum finally reopens on June 5th with an outdoor pre-openingPavillion decidation ceremony and a meet-and-greet for people who may be interested in becoming a volunteer. The 2021 Season officially begins on the July 4th weekend.
With the passing of Dorothy Corder on December 28, 2020, the entire Fort Valley community lost a wonderful friend far too soon, and the Fort Valley Museum lost an integral part of its entire operation. It’s hard to imagine all the roles she has filled: Curator; Vice President; Trustee; keeper of the Collections Inventory, manager of Museum sales, and so much more. Whenever anyone has had questions, we had all become accustomed to saying, “Just ask Dorothy. She’ll know!”
Dorothy leaves behind her husband Mike, daughters Jackie and Jo Ann, six grandchildren, three great grandchildren, three step-children, seven step-grandchildren, plus an entire grieving community. We very much appreciate the many donations to the Museum in her memory.
3:00 p.m. - Dedication service for the Dorothy A. Corder Pavilion
3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. - Learn how to become a Volunteer. We need you!
Saturdays, 1:00-4:00 p.m.
Sundays, 2:00-5:00 p.m.
The Museum has a superb collection of over 100 Native American arrowheads and tools collected locally and organized by Fort native son Ralph Boyce (1911-1977). This is the gift of his son, Toby. We are currently researching approximate ages and values of a number of these artifacts.
Exhibits in the Fort Valley Museum continually change, and we’re always looking for better ways to honor and illustrate Fort Valley’s past. Please don’t hesitate to come forward with your ideas about possible new exhibits or ways to showcase what we have.
“Fort Valley Schools: Through the 19th and 20th Centuries” will be the subject of this year’s feature exhibit at the back of the Old Brick Church. Curator Dorothy Corder has put together a great collection of photos and information about our schools, ranging from the Civil War era through the closing of the Fort Valley Elementary School in 1995.
The center of the display is to feature pictures and commentary on that last elementary school, some of it provided by former teacher Carole Ritenour, Surrounding that will be brief histories and pictures of our small schools, among them those in the southern (Upper) end, St. David's Church, Edith, Oak Level, Golladay’s, Joppa, Kibler’s and Keller’s Schools), centrally located schools such as the Cross Roads and the Fort Valley Graded and High Schools, and ones in the northern (Lower) end like Dry Run, Promised Land, and Slate Hill. Fort schools were privately subscribed until after the passage of Virginia’s Public School Law in 1870. For more information, see the section on “Fort Valley Schools” by Jeanette Ritenour in Reflections: Early Schools of Shenandoah County (Shen. County Historical Society, 1995).
Rare Antique Individual Communion Cup Set with Wooden Case These beautiful individual glass communion cups were one inventor’s response to the influenza pandemic of 1889-90, which killed nearly one million people worldwide. Although no one knew exactly how the virus was spread, people began to wonder if one means of transmission could be via the communal use of the wine chalice used by most churches during the Sacrament of Communion. Mr. LePage, an inventor who belonged to the Asbury and West United Church in Toronto, Canada, was one of the first to respond to their fears. In late 1895, the LePage Individual Communion Cup Co. of Toronto received its patent and began to manufacture sets of 35 sturdy individual communion glasses in wooden carrying cases. Our set, dated 1896, is an early example and is the gift of the Rev. Dr. Charles Wood. “Dr. Charles” was a docent and faithful supporter of the Fort Valley Museum. We are deeply saddened by his recent passing in March 2020.
The Joseph Franklin Plauger pie safe, built by Elder William Peters when his sister, Catharine, married Joseph in 1866.
...and a collection of old Fort Valley Stores memorabilia.
Visit the Fort Valley Museum to see the latest additions and more! Exhibits in the Fort Valley Museum do change, and we’re always looking for better ways to honor and illustrate Fort Valley’s past. Please don’t hesitate to come forward with your ideas about new exhibits or better ways to showcase what we have.
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.
John Gaunt - President
Dorothy Corder - Vice President
Debbi Dellinger - Treasurer
Dianne Maggard and Meg Trott - Corresponding Secretaries
Dianne Maggard - Recording Secretary
Dorothy Corder - Curator
Meg Trott - Archivist
Philip Crisman, Jr.
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Website development and maintenance contributed by Hank Zimmerman