Building has potential to become museum
Aucilla River Project lends museum purpose

By Ray Cichon

The celebrated Building A, built in 1852 by slave labor and the oldest brick school building in Florida, located on the Jefferson County High School campus, may well be on the way to becoming a unique museum, if all goes according to plan.

Speaking at the School Board meeting Monday, David Janet, Dr. John Ward and Lou Waldmann outlined how this can be done if the board approves the project.

“There are a plethora of grants available from the state, the federal government, and from the State Department of Education that can be accessed,” Janet said in his presentation.

Because of the archaeological treasures that continue to be unearthed in the Aucilla River, one of the most recent which establishes the Paleoindians lived on Florida’s plains some 12,000 years ago, the fact has been established that people were living in Florida 1,000 years earlier than previously thought.

This makes the Aucilla River site older than the oldest known Paleoindian sites in the western United States, David Webb of the University of Florida reported at the time.

In his presentation, Janet said that curators of the museum at the University of Florida offered to loan exhibits on a rotating basis, if the museum here becomes a reality.

Ward in his comments said that a collection of Winchester guns, might also be part of the museum’s exhibit, since a number of these were collected here and the collection might be supplemented by the manufacturer.

In addition, other possible exhibits include a local hall of fame for professional ball players from the area, such as Clemon Johnson and Jack Youngblood, Janet said.

Waldmann, president of the Committee of 99, said that the group has made some inquiries along the lines of establishing a museum in Building A, and would be happy to work with others on this project.

Principal Kelly Kilpatrick of JCHS said “I’ll do all I can to support the project. That building is a real treasure.”

Janet said that estimates to restore Building A run in the neighborhood of $1.5 million and noted that this was a project that had to be funded by major grants because of the dollar amount.

Should a museum come to pass in the building, advertisements on the interstate and elsewhere would draw tourists and their dollars to the community, presenters believe.

The uniqueness of the findings of the Aucilla River Project, make the location ripe for a historical museum and for grant funding which favors unusual projects, they believe.

The School Board, under whose domain the building lies, told the group to come back to the board for a decision when they have a task force formed and a project manager named.

Editor’s note: This article appeared in the September 12, 1997 issue of the Monticello News. Monticello is the county seat of Jefferson County, which borders the west side of the Aucilla River. The author, Ray Cichon is managing editor of the Monticello News.