Museum planning Friday opening

Published 7:26 pm Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A whiskey bottle in Lincoln County, perhaps the only legal one,sits proudly on a display case inside the former Temple B’naiSholom.

In the 1920s and 1930s moonshiners from the area hauled theirstump juice to Memphis where color was added, it was tested forimpurities and blended to a standard alcohol content. Grandpa’scough medicine was then sold under the name Early TimesWhiskey.

A retail milk dispenser from the 1930s, which once added thenecessary ingredient for a milkshake at Hoffman’s Drug Store,sticks out among the temple’s stained glass windows and provides alook into history.

“Many folks now days wouldn’t know what it is,” said LincolnCounty Historical and Genealogical Society member Julius Summers.”But, that’s how all the ice cream parlors and restaurants boughttheir milk before they started bottling it.”

Whiskey and milk are just two of more than 2,500 artifactsvisitors to the Lincoln County Historical and Genealogical Museumand B’nai Sholom Jewish Heritage Museum will get a taste ofbeginning with the museum’s ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m.Friday.

“We want people to know this is a museum for Lincoln County;it’s about their lives and their experiences,” said societyPresident Rita Rich. “We hope they’re proud of it. We are.”

The museum’s hours of operation will be 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday.The building will be closed on Sunday. Two senior aids fromCopiah-Lincoln Community College will man the fort as spectatorstake a glimpse into the past or a stroll down memory lane. There iscurrently no admission charge.

“We hope we don’t have to charge,” said Rich. “But, we acceptall donations.”

The temple, more than 110-years-old, may be aged and theartifacts inside may be historic, but Rich hopes to ensure themuseum does not become dated. She plans to display specialtyexhibits and continually move items in and out of the museum.

“We want to keep it fresh because we want people to stilldonate,” she said.

There will be more than 10 display cases inside the templehighlighting all aspects of Lincoln County life including areaschools, medicines and businesses. There will also be an areadedicated to honoring the county’s Jewish heritage.

“They helped establish Lincoln County,” Rich said. “They wereland owners, business owners and civic leaders; Lincoln County isvery steep in the Jewish faith.”

The society has been working in the museum for roughly two yearsto convert the former temple into a museum.

Rich said renovations began with the heating and cooling systemand went on to include touching up the windows, refinishing thefloors, providing a sign for the building and installing additionalelectrical outlets. Before the ribbon cutting ceremony, theorganization still has to label some items, hang a few pictures andfinish a kitchen and bedroom display.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation will be placing asign on Highway 51 and the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber ofCommerce will be highlighting the museum’s direction to traffic onBrookway Boulevard.

“We won’t have everything done by Friday,” said Rich. “We’llstill be accepting artifacts.”

The temple was deconsecrated in February of 2010 and the societyreceived a 99-year deed to the building the same year.

“It’s really surprising to me,” said Rich. “We were organized in2008; who would have thought we’d have a museum?”