Operated solely by volunteers, the Heritage Museum is owned by the City of Starkville. It receives operating funds from the City of Starkville and from the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors. Funding is augmented by contributions from the Friends of the Museum, from grants, and from visitors’ donations. Day-to-day operations are under the authority of a Board of Trustees, whose members are appointed by the city and the county. The museum trustees make the decisions involving the museum’s operation.
Museum Board of Trustees:
Kathy Bardwell Curto
Joan Wilson, liaison between the two boards
Mary Lee Beal
Suzanne Dressel (substitute)
Sally Laughlin (substitute)
Gerald Richardson (substitute)
Joan Wilson, Volunteers coordinator
Revitalization and Progress
The museum has seen revitalization in recent years. A major renovation of the museum’s interior was undertaken in 2008. The museum closed while the interior was refurbished, exhibits were created, and layout was changed. A grand reopening occurred at that year’s end.
In 2009, a multi-year project called the rain garden began on the grounds of the museum. The landscape design uses an aesthetically pleasing, sustainable system of water control for the museum’s property. Mississippi State University landscape architecture faculty and students provide free design and labor, with support from Master Gardeners, in-kind donations, and grants. Friends of the Museum provides funding for this extensive project’s materials.
In the fall of 2011, MSU landscape architecture and Day One students helped construct a cistern, or large rain barrel, to store rain water. Landscape architecture students constructed benches, planted trees next to some of the benches, and built the structures that the kiosks (signage to explain the rain garden) attach to. Graduate landscape architecture students researched the content for the kiosks, and graphic-design students in an advertising class designed and built the kiosk panels. MSU students also helped with the design, construction, and set up of the large new metal museum sign in a concrete base at the corner of Russell and Fellowship streets.
In the spring of 2011, repairs and painting refreshed the museum’s exterior. This exterior rejuvenation project was funded entirely by the Friends of the Museum.
In the summer of 2012, MSU landscape architecture and architecture faculty and students began constructing a green-roof pavilion on the museum’s grounds. They installed a winding staircase for future rooftop viewing.
In the fall 2012, the faculty and students partially enclosed the pavilion’s stairway with vertical wood strips for security and safety. They also did additional work on the pavilion, made benches for it, and installed plant materials on the roof. The pavilion is wired for electricity and has LED lighting in its ceiling. They installed a sidewalk, which is partially edged with train tracks.
In spring 2013, the pavilion was completed, the lawn was enlarged, and additional landscaping was installed. A dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting was held for the green technology demonstration pavilion on April 15, with more than 100 community members present. Pervious pavement may be installed later for the parking spaces.
[photo courtesy of Megan Bean/Mississippi State University]
Museum trustees and Friends of the Museum presented plaques to MSU faculty members Cory Gallo, Hans Herrmann, Brian Templeton, and Wayne Wilkerson. The plaques expressed appreciation for their exceptional leadership, dedication, and service on the multi-year rain garden and pavilion projects for the Heritage Museum.
In the summer of 2014, the Friends of the Museum paid to have more painting done: the museum’s front porch (its benches, railings, and ramp) and the pavilion’s wooden stairway encasement and benches.
An MSU graphic design class produced the museum’s barn quilt square for the Oktibbeha County Barn Quilt Square Trail. The Friends of the Museum paid for the production of the museum’s quilt square, and Rick Sherman, of Sherman Exteriors, donated his labor to install it. The eye-catching, colorful, wooden square is on the south side of the building.
The Oktibbeha County Barn Quilt Trail held its kick-off at the Heritage Museum on October 18, 2014. Featured on the trail are 15 barn quilt squares. The trail begins at the Habitat for Humanity Resale Warehouse (Hwy. 82 and N. Montgomery) and winds through Starkville to the Oktoc community, then on to the Noxubee Refuge. A brochure about the quilt trail is available at the Heritage Museum and at the Greater Starkville Development Partnership’s office in downtown Starkville, at Main and Lafayette Streets. The quilt trail’s brochure, which is as colorful as the painted quilt squares themselves, gives information about barn quilt squares in general, as well as the titles, artists/designers, sponsors, and locations of the local installations, including a map. The Heritage Museum’s barn quilt square is highlighted in the brochure, with its story and picture. People who travel the trail are reminded to respect private property and to practice safety. Initiated by the Starkville Area Arts Council, the Oktibbeha County Barn Quilt Trail is a collaborative effort of SAAC, MSU students/faculty, the MSU Center for the Advancement of Service-Learning Excellence, and individuals, businesses, and community organizations. Four-County Electric Power Association and Rick Sherman Exteriors installed the squares. Besides MSU art students, members of the Oktoc community also helped with the production of the squares. Laurie Burton (of SAAC) and Ava Moore (of FOM and SAAC) cochaired the project.
Cory Gallo, of the MSU landscape architecture faculty, facilitated the purchase and installation of a convex mirror at the pavilion’s northwest corner (at pavilion’s right-rear, at roofline). The Friends of the Museum paid for the mirror, whose purpose is to allow viewing at ground level of the plants growing on the pavilion’s roof.
The Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum has garnered several awards over the last several years as it has undergone renovation and revitalization.
- 2009 — Award of Excellence in Historic Preservation for Interior Renovation, Starkville Central Neighborhood Foundation
- 2009 — Proclamation of Appreciation, City of Starkville Mayor and Board of Aldermen
- 2010 – Resolution of Commendation, Mississippi Department of Archives and History — award given for “exceptional contributions to the preservation and interpretation of Mississippi History.” The notification letter stated, “The Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum is a model local historical museum. That it is staffed entirely by volunteers is extremely impressive.”
- 2010 — Crystal Pineapple Award for Tourism, Greater Starkville Development Partnership
- 2012 — Award of Merit, Mississippi Historical Society — award given for museum’s “exemplary work in preserving and interpreting the history of Oktibbeha County. The Society’s Awards of Merit are presented to individuals or organizations for their outstanding archival, historical, museum, or records management work.”