When Bert and Paula Harris of Tampa, Florida, came to Washington to do some genealogical research on the Harris family, they included a visit to the Washington Historical Museum on their list of attractions.
At the end of their museum tour, conducted with the unique personal touch added by Curator Olive Wills, the Harrises were enthusiastic.
"We have visited many historic sites and we have seen many impressive items and displays," they said, "but you have things here that we have never seen before."
"This is typical of the comments we get on the museum," Wills said. "Everybody likes what they see. It's just a matter of making it more widely known."
A diverse collection of ancient artifacts, historically significant documents, unique crafts, military arms, and assorted memorabilia appealing to a wide range of ages and interests make the museum an enjoyable place for almost anyone.
For example, a supersize scale-model doll house is sure to captivate the heart of any little girl, although none is allowed to play in it.
The doll house was built about 1950 for Kathy Reiber by her paternal grandparents. Kathy's other grandparents, Col. and Mrs. Archibald Colley, lived in the original house, known as "White Columns" for many years. It is located near the museum at 225 East Robert Toombs Avenue and is now being restored. The doll house is meticulously detailed, with hinged sides that can be raised for play. Each room is furnished with 1950s doll furniture and the house even has electric wiring.
A collection of relics from the War Between the States, gathered for many years by the Last Cabinet Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, is said to be one of the finest of its kind. The collection includes Jefferson Davis' camp chest, given to him by English sympathizers and used by him until after the final cabinet meeting when he left his staff and generals in Washington, Georgia, on May 5, 1865.
For military enthusiasts, a collection of guns and other weapons is on loan from the estate of the late Alexander Wright. The Wright collection includes a WWII Japanese machine gun, Chinese beheading swords, a rifle used at the battle of Harper's Ferry, and many other interesting pieces.
As is so often the case, the difference between a memorable tour and a so-so one is in the people who meet the guests and show them around. Wills and Assistant Curator Sara Dees have the ready answers, the gracious tact, and the genuine interest to make every person feel that he is getting VIP treatment in preference to other visitors. When large groups come, there is plenty of excellent help to call on from the group of 26 trained docents who work as volunteers.
308 East Robert Toombs Avenue
Washington, Georgia 30673
Tues. - Sat. 10-5, Sun. 2-5
Closed on Mondays and Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.
$2.00 ages 13-adult, $1.00 ages 6-12, free ages 5 and under