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Historic Society makes plea for help

POSTED: November 22, 2012 8:04 p.m.
Photo by Paul Floeckher/

Richard Loper encourages the guests to generate word-of-mouth interest in the museum and living history site. He also manned one of the displays, showing visitors a replica of a moonshine operation.

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orma Jean Morgan doesn’t mince words about the plight of the Effingham Museum and Living History Site.

"Actually, we are living from day to day on our ability to keep the doors open," Morgan said Tuesday at a lunch the Historic Effingham Society hosted for business and community leaders.

The guests enjoyed a Southern lunch of soup, cornbread and dessert, and toured the Living History Site. Morgan, the HES president, urged them to make monetary donations to the museum and "even more, to be involved in preserving the history of Effingham County."

The Effingham Museum survives on donations and memberships dues and has no other outside funding sources, Morgan said. The museum became so strapped financially that the Historic Effingham Society was unsure if it would continue to operate through the end of this year.

The HES launched a Save the Museum campaign, which raised money through a spaghetti lunch in September and generated enough corporate sponsorships to keep the museum in business — for now. However, Morgan said, much more is needed.

"We need your financial support. We are just a band of volunteers," she told the assembled local leaders.

Richard Loper, a former HES president who often volunteers at the Living History Site, dressed in attire of days gone by, followed by encouraging the group to generate interest in the museum through word of mouth.

"One way you can help us is by just telling other people about us. Bring them down here," Loper said.

Alethia Zadach of Georgia Power pledged to do that. Zadach said Georgia Power has helped the museum and Living History Site before by providing temporary lighting for events

"We are supportive of this and we will continue to be supportive," she said. "I will definitely go back and tell the folks in Savannah, ‘Hey, you need to go up to Effingham and experience this site.’"

Another business representative who pledged her support was Linda Mitchell, a sales director for Tours by B.J. in Savannah. An Effingham County native, Mitchell said the museum and Living History Site is an ideal destination for the motorcoach groups that visit the Savannah area.

"They don’t want to just look at buildings and drive by things," Mitchell said. "They want to do interactive things, and this is a perfect interactive experience that I think they would enjoy."

The HES hosts a number of educational programs throughout the year and the Olde Effingham Days festival every April. The Effingham Museum and Living History Site depicts the county’s history since the 1700s, including a barn, cookhouse, smokehouse, blacksmith shop, cane mill, syrup boiler shed and old farm tools and equipment.

While the HES ultimately would like to make additions and renovations to the Living History Site, the biggest priority right now is simply being able to cover the payroll of the staff — just two part-time employees.

"We need to be able to pay staff, who work very cheaply, I might say," Morgan said. "They almost volunteer their time for free to allow children, senior groups and genealogy enthusiasts to visit and learn more about the county through the various resources we have here."

The museum is open Monday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and Tuesday-Friday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Visits after hours, on Saturday or Sunday, are by appointment only.

"We are very interested in at least maintaining the hours that we have today," Morgan said.

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