Historic Westville’s archival documents will be moving to Columbus soon, but when the historic village itself will make the move from Lumpkin, Ga., is a mystery.
Westville announced Tuesday that its decades of archives will be donated to the Columbus State University Archives and housed in the Schwob Memorial Library. The collection, including people's stories and experiences in 19th century rural Georgi,a will allow researchers access to material that was limited previously.
"We are excited about the opportunity for Westville to partner with CSU Archives and offer this rare opportunity for researchers and scholars," said Leo Goodsell, executive director of Historic Westville.
As for the entire living museum’s move,Goodsell said Tuesday thatWestville is “absolutely” moving to Columbus, but that he could not say anything about the timeline or how the capital campaign to finance the move is progressing. Columbus Council voted in August of 2013 to donate 35 acres next to the OxbowMeadows Environmental Learning Center to relocate the living museum from Lumpkin, where it has been located since 1970.
At the time, Mike Dunn, chairman of the Westville board of trustees, said the move would cost about $5.5 million, which the board planned to raise through a capital campaign. That total would include all costs, from site preparation, moving buildings, installing utilities and necessary structures, Dunn said.
Dunn said the contract with the city calls for the move to be done in two years, but that a specific timeline for starting the work would depend on the success of the capital campaign. A sign erected on the planned site for the village on South Lum pkin Road reads: “Future Home of Historic Westville, Coming in 2015.”
One of the conditions in the city’s Memorandum of Agreement with Westville, which was signed on Aug. 13, 2013, reads:
“Westville will have 24 months after the date of this document to begin normal operations of the Living History Museum. Normal operations shall mean that a substantial portion of the Living History Museum will be open to the public.”
It further states that any extension on the MOA would have to be approved by Council. Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said the city has not been contacted about any extension of the MOA.
As for the archives, they will document life experiences of people in the mid-1800s, and will contribute to the study of historic preservation, architecture, archaeology, historical interpretation, and even the economics of heritage tourism.
"We are thrilled to have Historic Westville's archives coming to CSU and are looking forward to making the collection publicly available for research," said David Owings, archivist at CSU's Schwob Memorial Library. "This unique collection of material will open new avenues of research allowing scholars to delve into a wide range of topics to tell the story of Georgia's past."
Established in 1975, the CSU Archives serves as a repository for items documenting the history of CSU, the city of Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley. The archives house material in a variety of formats including maps, architectural drawings, photographs, audio recordings, and video recordings. Historic Westville opened as a living history museum in 1970 in Lumpkin, but was originally founded in 1928 in Jonesboro, Ga. It is the third oldest living history museum in the country.