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Historic Shepherdstown Museum reopens with regular hours

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Jun 18, 2021

Historic Shepherdstown Museum Docent John Kavaliunas, right, gives a tour on Saturday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — On Saturday afternoon, Historic Shepherdstown Museum reopened its doors to the public for the first time in over a year. The 37 event attendees enjoyed a tour of the museum and a small reception, as part of the event.

According to Historic Shepherdstown & Museum President Donna Bertazzoni, the museum was last open for Christmas in Shepherdstown 2019, having remained closed the following year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“We’ve had to use other means of trying to reach out to the public, since we haven’t been open. We’ve tried to keep our website more updated and to post more on social media,” Bertazzoni said, mentioning the museum was opened a few times over the past year-and-a-half to conduct private, socially-distanced tours.

“We are just so happy to be reopened!” Bertazzoni said. “We picked the perfect weekend to open the museum.”

According to Bertazzoni, the museum will be opened on Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. in the month of June. Depending on the number of visitors, the museum may expand its hours to being open on Sunday afternoons in July or August. Provided the pandemic does not get worse and BooFest is not cancelled this year, Bertazzoni said she hopes to see the museum remain opened through the end of October.

Pedestrians chat with Historic Shepherdstown Museum Docent John Kavaliunas, during the reopening event on Saturday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

“We’re doing great! People are genuinely impressed with all this,” said Historic Shepherdstown & Museum board member Austin Slater, as he helped welcome visitors into the museum. “Our reopening seems to have attracted a lot of traffic from off the street. We’ve seen a lot of people who seem to be visiting from out of town.”

For the reopening, a couple of new pieces were added to existing exhibits, said Historic Shepherdstown & Museum executive board member and docent John Kavaliunas.

One of the new pieces in to the museum, loaned from Jefferson County resident William Strider, was an enlarged copy of two pages from a diary kept by Shepherdstown resident Cato Moore Entler, who was the son of Joseph Entler, owner of Shepherdstown’s Great Western Hotel, and the nephew of Daniel Entler, who owned the Entler Hotel, which currently houses the museum. The display featured a list of Shepherdstown residents who served in the Civil War, including notations such as “arm shot off,” “deserted” and “died at Gettysburg.”

The museum also added a couple of pieces originally used by Col. John Francis Hamtramck, during his time leading Virginian volunteers in the Mexican-American War: a presentation sword and mahogany drop-leaf dining room table, on loan from Charles Town resident Wanda Perry. Hamtramck married Shepherdstown resident Eliza Clagett Selby and moved into a home on East German Street, eventually serving as mayor of Shepherdstown from 1850-1854 and on the Jefferson County Court from 1853-1858.

“You wouldn’t think this little town at the end of West Virginia would have so much history!” Kavaliunas said. “It’s sort of a microcosm of the country.

Attendees of Historic Shepherdstown Museum's reopening event check out some new display items previously owned by deceased Shepherdstown resident Col. John Francis Hamtramck, including a mahogany drop-leaf dining room table, pictured to their right. Tabitha Johnston

“A lot of the people who come in here have no idea that Shepherdstown is so old, or they’re like, ‘I didn’t know that happened here!'” Kavaliunas said. “If you want to learn anything about the history of the town, you should come here. As a docent, I just like to enjoy pointing things out about the artifacts and the discovers things about the artifacts.”