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Museum tells the story of our community
Roy Hubbard
A retired green beret and longtime local environmentalist, Roy Hubbard works for the Richmond Hill Historical Society as curator of the Henry Ford Museum at Richmond Hill. - photo by File photo

At the intersection of 144 and Timber Trail sits the first kindergarten in Bryan County, built by Henry Ford in 1925. The building houses the Richmond Hill History Museum, a project of the Richmond Hill Historical Society.

If you have visited the Richmond Hill History Museum, but not in the past six months, then you have not visited the Richmond Hill History Museum. I like to refer to it as the Henry Ford Museum at Richmond Hill.

For more than a year now, the Richmond Hill Historical Society has undertaken to completely revise, reorganize and improve the entire contents of our museum to better tell the story of Ways Station, it’s people and our famous residents, Henry and Clara Ford. A big thanks to those who participated in the effort encompassing literally hundreds of hours of research and physical labor to bring the museum to the level it is today.

A bigger thanks to those who have visited with us. We are experiencing an ever growing number of visitors who by their own admission, thoroughly enjoy the experience.

We began our restoration project over a year ago with a lengthy visit to the Benson Ford Archives in Dearborn, Michigan. Through their gracious hospitality we recovered countless digitals and other items which we have implemented to tell the amazing story of the Ford era in Bryan Neck. The Fords spent a total of 25 years here. Our story has nothing to do with the manufacturer of cars. It has everything to do with a human experiment that perhaps Henry himself did not realize was going to occur before he arrived.

The museum tour begins with a narrated video of our ancient residents, then moves thru the antebellum period and the massive rice plantations that were here. In deference to our fantastic Ft. McAllister State Park, a historic civil war site, we briefly cover the tumultuous years during and immediately after the Civil War.

Our story concentrates more on those years from 1925 to 1950 and the transition of this community thru the Great Depression and World War II. We showcase the efforts of the Fords, who among other challenges and works, set out to correct the condition of the false premise of separate but equal educational opportunities for African Americans, freedmen who made up about 75 percent of a population of about 750 people in lower Bryan Neck.

The story told by the Richmond Hill History Museum is an integral part of the amazing impact that Henry Ford, his eccentricities not withstanding, and his wife Clara had on our nation and the world. We have welcomed visitors literally from all corners of the world: New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Europe and Monck’s Corner, S.C.

Those folks in Moncks Corner are so far back in the woods that they have sunshine piped into them so we appreciate the effort it takes for them to visit.

The exterior of the building in which the museum is housed belies the volume of content Inside. There are seven rooms full of displays, which include, among many other things, a letter to Henry Ford from Clyde Barrow, of Bonnie and Clyde fame. We have dedicated a wall to the history of Georgia’s fisheries, shrimping, crabbing and oystering.

You can choose a guided tour or a self-guided tour of historical highlights all through the museum. Spend as much time as you like reading all the small print like the letter from Clara Ford to our own Ira Womble, thanking him for his wonderful birthday cakes.

It’s your museum! We welcome community participation. Hours of operation are Tuesday thru Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Special after hour tours can be arranged by calling 912-657-3929.

The museum also has a great little gift shop full of books for all ages and one-of-a-kind gifts. Think unique Christmas gifts.

Y’all come!

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