GALLIPOLIS — The Friends of Our House Board recently met to discuss reopening, repairs, and new opportunities at the museum.
“The meeting went very well,” Bev Jeffers, the Our House site manager, said. “We addressed the COVID-19, and what all was done with the sterilizing, cleaning, and getting prepared to open.”
According to Ohio History Connection, the Our House is “a restored 1819 tavern that hosted Gen. Lafayette” in 1825. Lafayette was a French aristocrat who commanded troops in the American Revolution.
“Reopening will start June 24, 2020,” Jeffers said.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum has been closed since March. According to the Ohio Department of Health, museums were first permitted to reopen on June 10, 2020. The Friends of Our House Board met the following day to discuss the logistics of reopening.
“We will run Wednesday through Sunday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.,” Jeffers said. “Wednesday and Thursday however will be special. We have special hours, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for seniors, with this COVID-19, to make them feel more secure and safe. That will just be seniors.”
The new hours will carry on through August.
In addition to reopening, the board also announced new officers. The new officers include President Greg Smith, Secretary Linda Carney, and Treasurer Pat Mills. Other board members include Robert Jindra, Carol Warren, Tony Gallagher, and Sara Sheets. Sheets, who has retired as board president, will remain “at large on” the board. Becky Pasquale, who served as site manager since 2013, is also retiring but will remain at Our House as a docent.
Docents are guides and reenactors who work at Our House. Docents dress in period clothing and are well-versed on the history and stories of Gallipolis and the French 500, Jeffers said.
Current docents at Our House include Sue Volborn, Bryna Butler, Paula Metzger, LuAnn Foster, Cindy Miller, Randall Fulks, and Samantha Fulks. Additionally, Our House has enlisted two “little historians” – students from Addaville Elementary who are interested in Gallipolis history. The two “little historians” are Easton Meaige and Ella Coughenour, both nine years old.
They “love to tell stories,” Jeffers said. “That will be new, that will be fun…They’re very intelligent…we are very excited to have them on board…They came in February as a school tour and…they stood out in our minds and we chose to do something new with them.”
The Board also hung a new sign outside of the tavern designed by the River Valley High School Art Department.
“We were going to celebrate our 200th anniversary and celebrate the fact that the students and art department designed and built and painted a beautiful sign,” Jeffers said. “It is up now, thanks to Iwrin Saunders contracting…It’s just a big complement to add to our museum. So we’re very, very happy.”
After making repairs and putting social distancing measures in place, Jeffers said she’s excited to be reopening.
The Our House Tavern is located on First Avenue in Gallipolis, Ohio.
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Sharla Moody is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing from Gallipolis, Ohio. She is a graduate of River Valley High School and currently attends Yale University.