Museum preserves past, looks to the future
The Collinsville Historical Association was incorporated in 2003 and has been promoting historic preservation and research ever since. The group owns and operates the Museum of Collinsville History and the Cricket Theatre in downtown Collinsville. They are also involved in Trunk or Treat every October and the annual Turkey Trot in November.
Martha Barksdale, a founding member of the Historical Association, currently serves as the organization’s treasurer. She said the goals for creating the organization were to “keep the character of the town alive,” and to “try to make their history easy for everyone to understand.”
Although they began with about 50 members, the group now has over 200 members spread across several states. In addition to attending meetings, members receive a regular newsletter from the association. This newsletter includes updates about the museum and the theatre along with essays and research compiled by the volunteers at the museum.
People frequently drop in at the museum to look around and do research. Their research room includes records of the schools, businesses, and people. They even have a section of most everyone in Collinsville’s history organized by surname. The volunteers are eager to help with anyone’s search. “We want the next generation to know where we’ve been,” Barksdale said.
The museum itself is organized into several rooms with each one focusing on a single aspect of Collinsville’s history with more than 1,000 pieces from donors on display. Their collection includes memorabilia from the schools, Collinsville’s veterans, and items that reflect the town’s past as a train depot.
Kathy Bartlett McCown, a member since 2005, travels to Collinsville from Huntsville a few times a month to work on projects. McCown grew up in the town and is descended from Alfred Collins, the man for whom the town is named. McCown is currently working on a scrapbook commemorating the history of the Historical Association.
In 2015, the Museum of Collinsville History moved into the vacated Main Street Liberty Bank building after it was donated to the Historical Association. The building is currently in a multi-stage renovation process. The museum underwent repairs to the roof prior to moving in, but it still needs to be replaced.
They have recently received a $25,000 grant from the Resource Conservation and Development Council to go toward replacing the roof. To thank the Council for their contribution, the Historical Association will host a luncheon for them in the Cricket Theatre in August.
The Historical Association is planning several other events and projects scheduled for later this year. In July, they will be hosting a living history event at the museum. It is a chance for the children of Collinsville to dress as people from the past and share stories about their town. At the Cricket Theatre, they will be hosting other events including a movie premier in October. They aim to make the Cricket into a venue for theatre, film, and other events for both local groups and those outside Collinsville.
Aside from grants and donations, the association raises money through t-shirt sales, renting the Cricket Theatre for events, and silent auctions. Their Collinsville-themed t-shirts are still available at the museum. Barksdale said that from the beginning the group has “tried to involve everybody.” She added, “It has been a town effort.”
For more information, visit https://www.collinsvillehistoricalassociation.org. Interested in joining the Collinsville Historical Association? Stop by the museum or mail a request to 113 W. Main St., Collinsville, AL 35961.