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Midway Museum getting historic Hinesville house
mills house OPED pix
The Mills House - photo by File photo
Soon the corner of Oglethorpe Highway and Washington Avenue will look different. The stately oaks that adorn the lot across from the First Presbyterian Church will still shade the lush property, but the house, known as the Mills house, will be gone.
It’s not being demolished, just moved.
The Mills House was donated by owners Jay and Joel Osteen to the Midway Museum.
Joel Osteen said they met several times with the museum board to discuss the possibilities and eventually hammered out a plan.
“Really since we were first contacted about it, we told them we would do it,” he said. “We’ve just been working on making sure it was feasible to do it.”
The community became concerned about the plight of the house when the Osteens submitted a request to rezone the property for commercial use in August.
However, the brothers kept the option open to donate the house to a deserving organization if they could come up with the funds to move it.
“Joel came to our meeting and he said he really wanted to give the house to where he thought it would be really used and preserved,” Dianne Behrens, Midway Museum curator, said. “And if the Midway Museum was willing to accept it he would donate it to us. We accepted and now it’s going to be a monumental task to get it here. But it can be done.”
Behrens said they are accepting donations to cover the cost of moving the house and bringing it up to code. The estimate is $150,000.
“It will cost roughly $60,000 to move the building and it will cost another $90,000 to get it up to code,” she said. “They gave it to us and it’s up to us to find the money to move it.”
Behrens said the Liberty County Historical Society has donated $15,000. She said the Osteen brothers have offered a donation as well.
Behrens said the museum board plans to use the building to house an expanded collection.
“We want to have workshops, make some of the rooms totally fireproof, so we can move all our genealogy stuff there,” she said. “We hope to get terminals that will access We really need a foundation or endowment to keep that going. And that is what we are working towards.”
The museum currently houses collection that date back to the 1700s when the area was Midway was settled.
Among the gems at the museum are a set of antique musical glasses, a music box built in 1910 that still functions, furniture which once belonged to President Thomas Jefferson and a new collection of artifacts from former Liberty County plantation owner Charles Colcock Jones.
Behrens said the Mills House, museum, Historic Midway Church and adjacent Midway Cemetery are vital to preservation efforts in the county.
“We are a non-profit and the museum is financed through private donations,” Behrens said. “We get money from the Lambert Estate, which is a private estate and we still get money from that periodically. And we received some money from Josephine Martin’s Estate. But other than that it’s all private donations.”
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