Preserve WV AmeriCorps Member Creates Online Exhibit in Honor of Re-Opening of Robinson Grand
After selecting items to use for the exhibit, she scanned and inserted the items into Prezi, the program used for the online exhibit. She focused on ensuring that the pieces accurately depicted the theater’s history. As a result, some of the pieces originally chosen were removed, while new things were added as the research uncovered more aspects of the theater’s history. She states, “working on this exhibit was definitely challenging at times, trying to fill all the gaps in the theater’s history but overall it was an enjoyable experience.” The theater has a unique and vital history to the Clarksburg community. This exhibit demonstrates and documents this role.
The original Robinson Grand Theater was built in 1913. It was constructed by the Clarksburg Amusement Company, which was owned by the Robinson brothers, Claude and Reuben. Reuben Robinson got the idea to open the Robinson Grand after a fire destroyed the town’s opera house, leaving little to no places for people to go for entertainment. Reuben would serve as the first manager of the theater before handing it over to Claude. To keep up with the entertainment industry, the theater underwent several renovations and an expansion. Claude ensured the theater remained at the forefront of technology in Clarksburg by bringing silent films to the theater in 1915 and later “talkies.”
In 1927, the Robinson brothers expanded the theater to add more seating and the interior was redecorated to reflect a 19th century English style Garden. In 1939, a fire broke out on the roof destroying a majority of the stage and seating areas. The theater was restored and reopened on Christmas Eve, 1939. Many saw the Robinson Grand’s reopening as a Christmas gift to Clarksburg. In 1984, the Robinson Grand was bought and turned into the Rose Garden, which continued to culturally enrich the residents of Clarksburg. In 2014, the theater was acquired by the City. Since then, the city has received a series of grants and loans to re-establish the building as the Robinson Grand. The theater will be re-opening in the summer of 2018. The Robinson Grand Theater has long played an important role among the residents of Clarksburg and will continue to in the future.
The online exhibit is posted on Waldomore’s web page at http://clarksburglibrary.info/waldomore/exhibits. Please check it out! Waldomore is an elegant antebellum built in 1842 by local businessman Waldo P. Goff and his wife, Harriet Moore. Today, Waldomore is a local history archive, genealogical research facility, and museum associated with Clarksburg-Harrison Public Library.
In May 2018, Kyle Warmack, the Preserve WV AmeriCorps member serving with the Clio Foundation, organized a Civic Service Project at the DuBois on Main Museum in Mt. Hope (Fayette County). The DuBois on Main Museum presents the history and contributions of DuBois High School (1919-1956). The outstanding teachers, accomplished graduates, scholars, athletes and dedicated families created a remarkable environment little seen today, and the museum informs, educates and provides opportunities for inter-generational and interracial gatherings and workshops through exhibits of pictorial, biographical and historical artifacts.
One community volunteer and six AmeriCorps members joined together to clean out the DuBois community garden, dust and clean the museum exhibition, create a collections list of museum items, catalog over 230 museum items, lay the foundation for a future collection's database and even install a printer. The AmeriCorps members' service prepared DuBois on Main Museum for more community interaction, such as community garden planting and the summer tourism season to the museum. Most importantly, the Museum has a template for cataloging its collection and a huge head-start on the total number of items in the museum.
"I am ever so grateful to Kyle Warmack for choosing to get AmeriCorps [out here]." - Jean Evansmore, Museum Director
The project served the residents of Mt. Hope (population approximately 1,350), for whom the Museum serves as both a vessel of community memory and gathering place. The Museum's community room recently hosted 11 candidates for the upcoming local elections, allowing residents of Mt. Hope to stay informed on their future city and county officials--as such, the physical upkeep of the Museum is important, and with Director Jean Evansmore having recently been through two shoulder surgeries, volunteers play an important role. Heavy work like gardening and lawnmowing helps preserve the visual integrity of this important Main Street landmark and the pride of Mt. Hope.
Additionally, our project served the 150+ remaining DuBois alumni who meet every two years to commemorate their school and its important chapter in African American and West Virginia history. This museum is the only comprehensive repository of DuBois knowledge. A digital collections database is not only essential to the long-term preservation of the Museum's materials, it is the first step in preparing the Museum's original documents for high-res scanning. Our project was essential to this process.
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