Chamber updated on Farm Museum


By Brittany Hively - [email protected]



Tim Kidwell, executive director of the West Virginia State Farm Museum, speaks to the Mason County Chamber of Commerce about the museum during the monthly commerce luncheon held this week.

Tim Kidwell, executive director of the West Virginia State Farm Museum, speaks to the Mason County Chamber of Commerce about the museum during the monthly commerce luncheon held this week.


Brittany Hively | OVP

POINT PLEASANT — During this month’s Mason County Chamber of Commerce luncheon, members listened to updates and history of the West Virginia State Farm Museum.

Larry Jones, president of the board of the Farm Museum introduced the speaker, Tim Kidwell, executive director.

“We are so fortunate to have Tim,” Jones said. “This was his first paying job, when he was still in high school. He has history from way back when and knowledge, oh my goodness.”

Kidwell said he hopes to continue his work with the museum and that visitors can discover new things each year.

Kidwell shared the history of the museum for those who may not know.

“We did open here in 1976 as the Mason County Farm Museum,” Kidwell said. “It was originally opened only a day and a half each week.”

Years later, the date not discovered, Kidwell said, the state had decided to open a state farm museum. It was planned for Jackson’s Mill in Weston and five to seven regional museums in the state with different displays that would rotate museums.

“Since we were already in existence, we were designated as one of the first regional museums in 1980,” Kidwell said.

Senate Bill 665, changed the Mason County museum’s title once more, as the idea for a state and regional farm museums seemed to have vanished, Kidwell said.

“We were designated as the West Virginia State Farm Museum in 1984,” Kidwell said.

Kidwell said the large green building seen upon entering the museum was the first piece and the section of land that houses the Country Kitchen was not part of the museum originally.

“Through donations of both buildings and funds, more than 30 buildings [have been added] to represent a snapshot of the traditions and the materials found on homesteads at the turn of the 20th century,” Kidwell said.

The Mason County Commission obtained ownership of the land, dividing it with the farm museum and fairgrounds, and what is now the Country Kitchen was the first restoration shop and storage area, according to Kidwell.

Currently the museum has several buildings to explore including period cabins, a house that could have been a presidential house, a carpenter shop, blacksmith shop, post office, warehouse, replica of the oldest Lutheran Church resting in the Allegheny Mountains, warehouse, doctor’s office, veterinary office, taxidermy displays, country store and several support buildings.

“As you go through buildings, the intent is to give you the feel of the community,” Kidwell said. “Hopefully you feel that as you have opportunity to travel through.

Kidwell said the community helps make the museum as it runs on a small staff of three full-time and three part-time, seasonal employees.

“What you see at the museum would be impossible for us to maintain without the help of a lot of volunteers that come in on a regular basis,” Kidwell said.

The Country Store has a variety of gifts including homemade apple butter, apple cider and rag rugs that are produced at the farm museum.

Kidwell said he is unsure of what is in the museum’s future.

“I wish I had the magic crystal ball that I can tell you for sure what it [future] holds,” Kidwell said. “Right now our main focus has been to try to catch up with some maintenance. That’s our number one priority right now.”

Kidwell said they are fixing some leaks, with new shingles on the church to follow, a remodel of the Country Store and completing a dump station that was a part of a sewer project.

The museum is in the process of obtaining use of a piece of property that once housed a furniture factory down the road from the museum.

“We have limited use of it for a number of years. It is now in the hands of the Department of Agriculture and they are finalizing the lease agreement to transfer to us,” Kidwell said. “The plans are, hopefully to turn it into a full-service campground or at least part of it into full service.”

Kidwell also said the “very beginning stages” of a bluegrass festival are in the works for, “hopefully” 2023.

“However, I think there will be a bluegrass teaser show added to the schedule later on,” Kidwell said. “So keep your eyes open for announcements on that.”

Kidwell said volunteers and museum members are always welcome and that the museum welcomes volunteers “wherever their talent best fits.”

The museum has released the yearly schedule and Kidwell said he hopes all events will go on as planned for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Along with the special events, the museum is available for site rentals for weddings, photography, reunions and meetings.

The new season is April 1 through November 15, with the museum open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission is free. Donations are welcome.

Other Chamber of Commerce announcements include:

The Ohio Valley Symphony on March 26 at the Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School auditorium, the season finale of the symphony will be April 23;

The upcoming annual golf tournament will be June 23;

June 28 — this is a schedule change since previous reports — is the chamber dinner with Brad Smith, Marshall University president, as the guest speaker.

© 2022, Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.

Tim Kidwell, executive director of the West Virginia State Farm Museum, speaks to the Mason County Chamber of Commerce about the museum during the monthly commerce luncheon held this week.
https://www.mydailyregister.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2022/03/web1_IMG_6526.jpgTim Kidwell, executive director of the West Virginia State Farm Museum, speaks to the Mason County Chamber of Commerce about the museum during the monthly commerce luncheon held this week. Brittany Hively | OVP

By Brittany Hively

[email protected]

Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 446-2342 ext 2555.

Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 446-2342 ext 2555.