Museum opens to public today
A select group of Newnan-Coweta Historical Society members and supporters got a sneak peek at the new McRitchie-Hollis Museum at 74 Jackson Street Thursday evening as the group readies itself to open the doors to the general public this weekend.
“I think this is the most beautiful house in Newnan,” said Carol Toole as she admired the late 1930s /early 40s period kitchen, now outfitted with elegant furnishings from the Edgar B. Hollis estate, as well as pieces acquired from estate sales and websites like Craigslist. Some had to be trucked in from as far away as California.
“The color scheme and everything else comes from researching kitchens from the time period,” said Joanna Arrieta, executive director of the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society. “This stove that we have here is beautiful piece, but it’s also fully functional. We wanted to have a working kitchen – not just something to look at.”
The kitchen, like the rest of the house, is still missing many of the smaller pieces to fill in the rest of the story of what life on “the home front” was like in the years leading up to and during World War II.
“Wouldn’t it be great to have a tin of Spam from that period, sitting on the shelf? Or a local letter?” asked Arrieta. “That’s what we’re still missing. Items that are likely sitting in attics and storage spaces in and around Newnan. Pieces that will really bring this time period to life for the visitor.”
The new museum was made possible by Edgar Baldwin Hollis - a Newnan native who spent most of his professional career in Washington D.C. working for the National Security Agency’s Inter-Library Loan Division. When Hollis died in 2006, he left his collection of period furnishings to the historical society to be used as the basis for the establishment of a “high-quality, well-staffed” museum, according to the terms of his will. His collection makes up about “75 to 80 percent of what we have on display,” estimates Arrieta.
The Hollis estate provided a beautiful game table for the exhibition, but there are no cards and poker chips from the period to fill out the scene. In another room sits a vanity, but there’s no make-up, no wigs.
“It’s like a treasure hunt that we’re on,” said Arrieta. Donations are welcome as the historical society works to fill in all the hundreds of tiny details that help bring professional historical exhibitions like these to life.
Toole said the new museum, even in its current unfinished state, already conjures up a transporting experience.
“I would like to just sit at the top of this beautiful staircase with a cup of tea and just breathe,” she said as she admired the bird mural, painted by a local artist specifically to evoke the period.
“It’s a meditative space,” said Toole.
The historical society invites the general public to come and experience the McRitchie-Hollis Museum for themselves today at the grand opening event.
“The furnishings, textiles, and the newly renovated 1937 home create a unique experience for everyone’s family to enjoy,” said Arrieta.
The Museum will be open to the general public from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door - $5 per adult and $2 per child (age 3 and under free). The event is free for members of the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society. Call 770-251-0207 for more information.