After it was announced the Albertville Museum would be getting a new home, members of the museum’s board of directors as well as city officials and employees have been hard at work renovating the old Jewelry Box building in downtown Albertville.
Museum board member Danny Maltbie was thrilled about having a larger, more central location for the museum, but he knew it was going to take a lot of work to redo after he saw inside of the building, which has sat unused since around 2006 after the Jewelry Box went out of business. So far, he and the other board members have removed dropped ceilings, torn down wall plaster, scrapped up floor tiles, refinished wood floors, tore down walls and cleaned out enough garbage to fill at least 20 dump truck loads of debris and refuse, Maltbie said.
He said they were planning to replace the ceiling paneling in the front section of the building when they discovered the crown molding from when the building was first built as a bank in 1904.
“This crown molding … is old original plaster — handmade plaster molding,” Maltbie said. “It’s not wood. And at that point, we decided just to take that ceiling out… That’s one reason we went ahead and exposed that because it was original for the building. And it’s beautiful.”
Much of the renovation work has been slow-going due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, but Maltbie said the shut down has also removed the pressure of opening the new location as soon as possible.
“We couldn’t have done some [of the work] had it not been for the virus slow down,” he said. “We’ve had inmates helping us before, and we couldn’t get any inmates during the shutdown… So, it’s pretty much been us.”
He said the museum has also had volunteer help from school board employees, spouses and family members and Albertville Mayor Tracy Honea.
“It’s been an effort of the whole city,” Maltbie said. “The mayor has come and helped us pull carpet up and haul it off. It’s just been a little bit of everybody here… We weren’t as pushed to hurry and open as we would have been without the shutdowns. It kind of gave us a little time to sit back and say, ‘Hey, let’s not rush this.’”
Matlbie said the museum plans to house its more formal displays in the front section of the building, which has its entrance on 101 West Main Street, and use the open area of the back section for its larger exhibits that it hadn’t had the room to display in the past.
“We got some bigger things,” he said, “like an 1840s or 50s weaving loom that they weaved wide cloth with. It’s probably 4-feet wide, 8 feet long; we’ll have room to set it up… We’ll be able to display more large things like that and hopefully come up with some more large stuff.”
A new bathroom has already been added in the back section of the building and the museum plans to add an general-use activity room for its events and public use. There will also be a records library where anyone can request information on historical topics and pour through the museum’s records.
“Say you came in [and asked], ‘What do you have on the [a specific] family?’” he said. “We can go back there and pull a folder out, let you have it and you can go back there and sit and read about what we have here. We’ll also have all of our yearbooks and all the history books we have. So, we’re going to have quite a bit of history that is available for in-house reading… We’re pretty excited about that area also.”
Although he’s proud of the progress they’ve made on the new museum building, which the city reportedly purchased for close to $120,000, Maltibe said there’s more work to be done. The museum hasn’t set a date yet for when they hope to have its grand opening.
“This building here, I wish we had taken before and after pictures,” Maltbie said. “We have a few but not you wouldn’t believe the difference in this building. It just amazes me, but we still got a long way to go.”