WV’s First County Museum Captures Moments of Brooke County Life
When visitors enter the Brooke County Historical Museum and Cultural Center (BCHMCC), they take a step back in time to rooms capturing the stories of the community. The former G.C. Murphy building is divided into several “cubbies”, each staged to portray life in specific settings. Guests can be transported back to an 1890’s bedroom or a 1790’s kitchen. “My grandmother had that in her kitchen!” is a common exclamation heard by BCHMCC volunteer board members Vickey Gallagher and Bobbie Elliott.
“The museum promotes memories just by walking through the door,” said Bobbie. “Visitors see the display of G.C. Murphy items, like the coin-operated horse, and start telling stories about how their mom or sister used to work at the 5 & 10.”
In 1975, the West Virginia state legislature passed bills allowing for the creation of county museums. Brooke County was the first to be approved, opening its doors in the historic Miller Tavern. By 2012, the museum had outgrown its space and was relocated to the current location at 704 Charles Street in Wellsburg, West Virginia. Since its beginning, the museum has been committed to protecting, preserving, and presenting Brooke County artifacts dating from 1730 to the present. As a center for history, culture, and the arts, BCHMCC provides a gathering place for the community.
For locals, the education exhibit is one of BCHMCC’s major draws. A one room school display is available, including a photo collection of Brooke County’s one room schools. The collection also includes composite photos of Wellsburg and Bethany High schools, plus yearbooks of the four past and present County high schools. Band uniforms for Wellsburg and Follansbee High schools are also on display.
Visitors to the area can learn about the county’s multicultural heritage, including the trades, pioneer life, education, business, industry, health care, and the military. Brooke County has a strong military background, with the highest per capita signups to go to war in the state. The museum has made their military rooms a central part of their exhibits, featuring uniforms, ammunition, maps, magazines, and more. They also have a collection of written stories featuring recounts of all military branches, war or not, from Brooke, Hancock, and Ohio Counties.
Each item has a unique story to tell, and the BCHMCC board is ready to share those stories by working with the community. “This is Brooke County. This is the history of our area,” commented Vickey.
The museum has a stage and community room available for programming and is open for free group or individual tours April through October. Hours of operation are Thursday, Friday, and Sunday 1-5 p.m. or by appointment. To schedule a visit, call 304-737-4060 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about the museum and their upcoming events by following their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Brooke-County-Historical-Museum-Culture-Center-360572181111472.