The exterior of The Belmont County Museum

Re-visiting Belmont County Museums and Attractions

As I look forward to once again being able to explore the museums in Belmont County, I am reminded of the first time that I visited some of them. What Belmont County museums are you looking forward to visiting again or for the first time?

The Belmont County Victorian Mansion Museum in Barnesville hosts many events throughout the year at this 26-room mansion.

Belmont County Mansion Museum, 532 N. Chestnut St., Barnesville.

I honestly don’t remember the very first time that I visited the magnificent Belmont County Victorian Mansion Museum in Barnesville, but I do remember the first time that I had the pleasure of experiencing the 26-room mansion during the “Magic of Christmas” tours. I remember being amazed at how volunteer decorators were able to transform each room, already superbly decorated in Victorian style, into a truly magical holiday experience.

The following year was the first of six times that I was privileged to help decorate a room at the mansion for Christmas. I never cease to be amazed at the creativity and talent displayed each year. Every year I think the decorators can’t possibly top the previous year, and every year they do!

The museum, saved from demolition and lovingly restored to its splendor, is a must-see any time of year, not just at Christmas time. From the picturesque white-washed gazebo and wrap around porch outside to the stunning wood, fret work and marble fireplaces inside, a visit to the mansion museum will transport you back in time

Emery Stewart and the other docents at the museum are both knowledgeable and passionate about the history of the mansion and the family that built it and lived there. I am looking forward to the return of the museum’s many events including wine tastings, teas, cemetery tours and physic readings, quilt and flower arrangement displays, and of course, the Magic of Christmas tours.

The Belmont County Veterans Museum in Belmont honors local men and women who have served in the military.

Tri-State Military Veterans Museum, 101 E. Barrister St., Belmont.

I witnessed the beginning of this museum when it was being developed by the late Floyd Simpson. His dream for a museum to honor the military service of area residents has been continued and expanded by co-curators Kim Kuthy and Cheryl Skinner. The erection of an honor wall and flag poles representing each branch of service, as well as the expansion of the museum’s collection and a name change to reflect that, are some of the many ways this museum seeks to educate future generations about the veterans of the Ohio Valley.

The Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing features thousands of items collected by the late John and Rosalind Mattox.

Underground Railroad Museum, 121 High St. Flushing

My first visit to this museum was over 15 years ago as a freelance writer for a regional magazine. I had met John a few years prior to that when writing an article about the Special Wish Foundation chapter that he started in Belmont County. Because John was involved in so many worth while causes and projects, I interviewed him many times more throughout the years. It wasn’t until I became employed at the tourism office that I really got to know John and call him my friend.

John had a way of making each visit to the museum, a unique and personal experience. Since his passing in July, I have visited the museum twice, once being during the Belmont County Rubberneck Tour in October. During that tour, hundreds of people visited the museum, some for the first time. The museum hosts many events including movie screenings, coffee hours, and historical reenactments. The three-story building houses between 15,000-18,000 objects, artifacts and documents pertaining to the history of slavery and the Underground Railroad, so every time you visit, you see something that you didn’t notice on a previous visit.

This display from Frizzi’s Market in the Bellaire room is just one of many showcasing the history of Belmont County communities.

Belmont County Heritage Museum, 101 E. Main St., St. Clairsville

I attended the opening of this museum as editor of the Barnesville Enterprise. I continue to be impressed by the restoration of this historical building, as well as the combined history of the county that is housed under its roof. Although I have conducted several tours of the museum since working at the Belmont County Tourism Council, I always learn something new from the items and displays.

This 1880’s building served as the residence of the Belmont County Sheriff until 1976 as required by law and has been fully restored to its historical significance, now houses the county’s past. In addition to displays about the county’s sheriff’s, each room houses displays from the county’s communities representing their industries, landmarks, and important historical figures. The displays bring the spirit and history of each area together under one roof.

Inside are artifacts and photos of what made this county great. From the designer of the USS Constitution to a major role in the glass industry, people can discover hidden gems that Belmont County is proud to hold in its history.

On display at the Museum are many fine examples of Imperial glassware created from 1904 to 1984 including Candlewick, Cape Cod, carnival, milk glass, slag and more.

National Imperial Glass Museum, 3200 Belmont St., Bellaire

I visited this museum for the first time two years ago during the annual National Imperial Glass Collectors’ Society Convention in June.

This museum is dedicated to preserving the history of the Imperial Glass Corporation, paying tribute to its employees, educating the public, and providing research opportunities. For 80 years Imperial was one of the largest handcrafted glass companies in America and was located at Imperial Plaza on Belmont St. NIGM is a “must visit” for glass enthusiasts

On display at the Museum are many fine examples of Imperial glassware created from 1904 to 1984 including Candlewick, Cape Cod, carnival, milk glass, slag and more.

The beauty and artistry of the glass on display at this museum is reason alone to visit, but my favorite part is the display about the factory and its many employees. Many of the volunteers at the museum had relatives that worked at the factory and share their stories with visitors.

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