Museum march right on
Two weeks ago marked the third anniversary of the removal of the Julius Caesar statue that topped the pavilion at what was then Caesars Indiana.
Caesar ‘ measuring 12 feet tall from head to toe and tipping the scales at 750 pounds ‘ was carefully brought down from his perch by a large crane from Padgett Inc. and loaded onto a flatbed truck. He had watched over hundreds of thousands of gamers ‘ who brought in millions of dollars of revenue for Harrison County ‘ along S.R. 111 since 1998.
From Bridgeport, Caesar was moved to the farm of Harrison County Commissioner Carl (Buck) Mathes, where he’s been stored among rustic farm equipment.
At the time, the plan was for Caesar to be placed in a more suitable location, a Harrison County museum, perhaps.
While it seemed like pie-in-the-sky dreaming for a county museum in 2008, it seems as though the idea may have legs. Through the recent efforts of the tireless Karen Schwartz and the Historical Society of Harrison County, a March to the Museum committee is being formed to look at the possibility of embarking on such an endeavor.
The three big questions are: Who will pay for it? Where will it be? And what should go in it?
It’s likely ol’ Caesar himself may have some say in how the venture could be funded, at least in part. This is just the type of thing riverboat dollars were made for, which is something that can be a lasting legacy for the county.
Where should it be? The first place that popped into my mind was the ground floor of the Harrison County Court House, since it’s largely not being used for much of anything since government offices were moved to the new Government Center in the old Harrison County Hospital in south Corydon.
It’s a decent amount of vacant square footage that wouldn’t need an extensive amount of renovation. In fact, since three rooms on the floor are connected, a person could walk from one end of the building almost to the other without having to make but a couple of steps in the main hallway, which could be used to store additional items of interest. This doesn’t have to be the Smithsonian. It just has to present and preserve our past for future generations.
Having a museum in the courthouse would also keep tourists in downtown a little bit longer, which is a good thing for businesses on the town square.
That’s just one place I’m tossing into the ring.
If we have a museum, it needs to be in a location that would receive foot traffic. There was a time when people sought out such places, but, in today’s fast-paced world, if it’s the least bit inconvenient to visit, it’ll be crossed off the list.
Once there’s a place for the museum, the next plan of attack is to select items to fill it. Obviously, there’s the Caesar statue, and perhaps the bust that was presented to the county from the casino.
But what else?
I think we should have something from two of our most famous citizens, the late Frank O’Bannon (although some may say the statue on the square is enough if we have the museum 100 yards away) and actor James Best, who played Rosco P. Coltrane on ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ TV series.
What if we could get Best’s sheriff’s hat or maybe a uniform? He’s an accomplished artist, so maybe we could commission a piece for him to paint?
Zimmerman Art Glass, something having to do with popcorn, bottles of Harrison County wine and links to our agricultural past are other items that should go in the museum.
As one of only two battles on northern soil, we’d definitely need something from Morgan’s Raid. I’ve heard large pieces of the meteorite that struck Buena Vista on March 28, 1859 ‘ called the Indiana Meteorite ‘ are housed in the British Museum in London. I wonder if they’d be willing to share a piece for our own museum?
Why not have a couple of displays for some of the more notable teams, athletes and school groups in our past? We’ve had several state runners-up and state champions (South Central’s Brooke Beckort and North Harrison’s Marching Cougars).
We’ve also had Major League Baseball players from the county.
No idea is too big or too small at this point. Let’s see what we can come up with. Dream big!
So, what say you? Where could a county museum be located, and what items should be must-haves that would interest people not from here?
E-mail me at [email protected] with your suggestions, and perhaps we’ll use a few in a future column.