By Greg Ritchie
CROCKETT – The Mary Allen Museum Heritage House opened its doors for an open house Saturday, Sept. 10 in Crockett. Located on South Fourth Street near Loop 304, the house has undergone extensive renovations outside and within.
The museum was open for tours of their extensive exhibits of the history of the historic Mary Allen College, which served for many years as a pathway to education and a better life for African Americans in our community. The Mary Allen Seminary opened in 1887 and closed in 1972.
Museum President Dr. Thelma Douglas said it was that same spirit that brought the museum back – better than ever – after the COVID pandemic.
“It took a village, a community,” Douglas said. “We had been closed due to the pandemic. We had to really work and get a lot of things taken care of. Crockett Economic and Industrial Development and Pastor David Beaulieu really spearheaded this. By the community coming together, we had Lifepointe Church, First Presbyterian Church, St. Luke’s, and other members and volunteers coming out to help us.”
The museum had exhibits covering the full span of time of the college, from its earliest days to its sad demise. There were homemade snacks for guests and a video explaining the museum and its goals.
Activity Director and artist in residence Alexandria Hubbard has been working with the museum for only three months, but already had big plans for guests even as she hosted her first event.
“Sadly, the original building is ruined,” Hubbard said. “This museum is to pay homage to the school. I am an artist, and to me the museum is so beautiful and the history is so rich. I am just happy to be a part of it.”
Hubbard was responsible for the popular hashtag photo frame guests used to get selfies taken by Hubbard herself. She has also planned a lot of events for the community, from events for children to movie nights. Saturday, Sept. 17 the museum will host a Zumba event called “Movement at the Museum,” beginning at 11 a.m.
Dr. Douglas was going back and forth through the museum, checking details and welcoming guests. When she finally took a minute to catch her breath and speak with the Messenger, she outlined her first priorities in the re-launched museum.
“This museum is not only about artifacts and pictures – we are also pushing education. We want to partner with the city of Crockett and with all the ISD’s in Houston County,” Douglas said. “We have programs designed to help our students and bring them to the museum to tell them about our history.”
Douglas was rightly proud of the community she had called on to assist in the museum’s relaunching. Several of the people at the reopening – Crockett locals – confessed it was their first time visiting the museum. Douglas hopes it will not be their last.
“The open house is exactly that – we have opened the house,” Douglas said.
Asked how she was feeling given all the hard work before the event, and all the work left to do, Douglas captured some of the spirit of those souls whose lives were enriched by the Mary Allen College.
Douglas quipped, “It’s like Queen Elizabeth once said: ‘No complaints, do not explain and stay out of politics!”
Greg Ritchie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org