By Morgan Bryce
Providing Smiths Station residents with an appreciation of their community’s rich heritage is the goal of the Jones Store Museum, which is slated to open later this summer.
The museum, once a general store operated by the well-known Jones family in Smiths Station during the early 20th century, possesses many of its original features, including the majority of its hardwood flooring.
Once completed, the 523-square-feet space will house Smiths Station-themed memorabilia, photos, prehistoric artifacts and audio interviews from older residents discussing landmarks, event and other portions of the city’s past.
Gifted by a local contractor to the city in 2015, the house was relocated to the back of the city’s Government Center, facing Lee Road 298. Smiths Station City Planning/Zoning and Communications Director Lisa Deason said the nearly 3-year-long renovation and modernization of the structure has been a rewarding experience.
“This has been one of my dreams since Smiths Station became a city in 2001. The railroad history of this town is something a lot of people either don’t know about or may have forgotten,” Deason said. “Through this, my eyes have really been opened as to how rich a past Smiths Station has. It’s been exciting to get into that and work on it.”
Hunter Purvis, a Smiths Station High School junior and summer student intern for the city, said he has enjoyed compiling and cataloging information for the project.
“There’s a lot of stuff that I didn’t even know about, and I’ve been living here for 17 years. Helping to make this the best it can be is what motivates me,” Purvis said. “It’s fun and it’s a good time, just knowing that a lot of people are going to learn some stuff on this.”
Mayor Bubba Copeland said he believes the museum will provide citizens with a chance to take a step back in time and serve to educate children for generations to come.
“This project is a labor of love by the community of Smiths Station as a way to preserve our historical presence. We were a railroad town years ago, however, as progress happens, we have become a town that supports bigger cities that surround us,” Copeland said. “ This building is a way for us as a city to remember our past but focus on our future.”
Deason is currently searching for museum pieces, pre-1970 items including photographs of local individuals, groups, structures, and landmarks; farm implements and agricultural items; militaria; general store mercantile and railroad memorabilia.
“Although Smiths Station became a city in 2001, there’s been a community here for a long, long time. It’s been home to many people who love it,” Deason said. “But, there’s not been very much history preserved, and that’s one of the major reasons we’re doing this.”
Those interested in making donations can contact Deason by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 334-297-8771, ext. 5. Follow the City of Smiths Station on Facebook for updates and announcement of the museum’s grand-opening ceremony.