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Interested in visiting the Museum's latest exhibit-
Experience The James: Lynchburg's Pathway to the World?
Leggett's Santa on display at the Museum
From the mid-1950s until 1980, Leggett’s Department Store at 1015 Main Street in Downtown Lynchburg installed a mechanical Santa in a sleigh with eight moving reindeer on the front canopy. Many Lynchburg residents remember it as part of the holiday traditions in Downtown. The Santa was donated by Tom and Marilyn Jenkins in 2013.
Looking for a way to document that this was the real Leggett’s Santa, Museum Director Doug Harvey contacted Gordon Leggett whose family operated the chain of stores. Last Christmas, Gordon came to the Museum and verified that it was the real one and remembered helping assemble the display over the years. He noted, “The Santa turned and waved, and the reindeer moved up and down. Sometimes the brackets that held the reindeer became loose, and the reindeer would jump down into Main Street! I was always worried they were going to hit someone.”
Leggett’s Department Store operated on Main Street from 1927 until 1980 when it moved to River Ridge Mall. The chain was later bought by Belk.
The Santa will remain on display through January 31, 2015.
The Museum is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
LYNCHBURG MUSEUM AND LYNCHBURG CITY SCHOOLS PARTNER ON FOURTH GRADE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS
This fall, Lynchburg City Schools are sending all fourth grade classes on field trips to the Lynchburg Museum at the Old Court House for SOL-based educational programs. The Lynchburg Museum Foundation realized over the years that local schools faced field trip challenges including the cost of buses and bus drivers. A scholarship program was created by the Foundation to fund field trips to the Museum for all fourth grade classes in the City schools.
The Experience the James: Lynchburg’s Pathway to the World exhibit covers many topics in the fourth grade curriculum including history, geography, ecology, and art. Museum Educator Whitney Roberts created SOL-based programs that teachers can select for their particular class, all of which have a hands-on learning component.
To date, Bass, R.S. Payne, Perrymont, Heritage, Sandusky, and T.C. Miller Elementary Schools have toured, and the remaining schools will complete tours this month. Museum Director Doug Harvey noted, “Education is a core mission of museums, and this is one way we can help students learn about their home town and how our history fits in to the broader stories of Virginia and American history. We are thrilled to have the students come and explore the Museum.”
Dixie Sears, Supervisor of English, Social Studies, and Media Librarians with Lynchburg City Schools stated, “We are so excited to rekindle our relationship with the Lynchburg Museum. When Marie Waller shared the idea with Dr. McClain and me, we knew right away this would be a meaningful experience for our fourth graders. We have received only positive feedback about the Experience the James exhibit and activities from our students, parents, and teachers. One teacher even sent us a videotape of her students during the museum visit. This is like rediscovering a treasure in our own back yard!”
Large Collection of Early Dunbar Material and Portrait of Confederate General James Dearing Donated to The Lynchburg Museum
When Dunbar High School transitioned from a segregated black high school to an integrated school in 1970-71, Carolyn Brown was there as school secretary. Earlier, she worked with C.W. Seay, the principal of Dunbar and the first African American elected to City Council since the 1880s. During the transition, many items were being thrown away and Carolyn saved documents, photographs, graduation programs, and other pieces of the school’s long history.
In recent months, Carolyn contacted the Lynchburg Museum and agreed to let the Museum make digital copies of the extensive collection. Staff members and college interns worked on the collection for several months and recently completed the project. At that time, Ms. Brown decided to donate the collection to the Lynchburg Museum.
Museum Director Doug Harvey noted: “Collections like this are rare, as African American history was not often saved in the early to mid -20th century. This collection includes student newspapers from the 1920s, commencement programs, memorabilia from Jackson Street School, the predecessor to Dunbar, annuals, reunion photographs, and similar items. Carolyn Brown preserved an important and often overlooked part of Lynchburg’s history.” The Museum plans to put portions of the collection on its website in the coming months.
Another important part of local history was donated to the Museum this week. General James Dearing was born in Campbell County, attended West Point, and served in the Confederate army during the Civil War. Rising to the rank of Brigadier General, he was wounded just before the surrender at Appomattox in a cavalry battle near Farmville. Brought to Lynchburg’s Ladies Relief Hospital on Main Street, he died there on April 22, 1865. James Dearing was the last Confederate General to die in the conflict and was buried on his 25th birthday.
Originally interred at the family home Avoca, now a historic house museum near Altavista, he was later moved to Spring Hill Cemetery in Lynchburg. The oil portrait of Dearing by Flavius Fisher was done in 1899 and bequeathed to the Museum by the late Mrs. Margaret Spruce Christian. Her husband was James Dearing Christian, Jr., a descendant of General Dearing and of John Lynch, the founder of Lynchburg.
Lynchburg Museums Recognized in
MLK Jr. Day
Point of Honor
Noon to 4 pm