CENTERVILLE — During last year’s renovations in the Appanoose County Historical and Coal Mining Museum, the staff discovered a treasure they weren’t aware they possessed – a set of beautiful, beveled, leaded glass windows. Technically, they would be referred to as sidelights – long, narrow windows that flank each side of a front entryway.
The windows were stored on top of a dust-covered, makeshift bookcase, which had been there for many years. It actually dated back to the building’s post office years. It was behind the wall where people would slide their letters in the slot. This case was the bin that they dropped into. Once the Historical Society acquired the building, the bins were used for storing a large set of Civil War roster books.
When the renovations were in full swing, the bins were removed to make room for filing cabinets, and the windows were discovered. They were stored on two long two-by-fours covered with a piece of cardboard to keep the windows supported. Volunteers gingerly pulled them down and placed them onto one of the long display cases to look them over. It was first thought they were stained glass, but they were so dirty, it was hard to tell. After a bit of clean up, it was evident that the windows were beveled, clear glass, with leading that was breaking down. Any attempt to stand them upright would have resulted in disaster. The significance of the windows wasn’t known wither.
Curator Lisa Eddy made a call to long-time Historical Society board member Leon Kauzlarich to find out more about them. He is responsible for much of the original set up of the Post Office museum and his volunteer efforts in creating the coal mining museum are still apparent today. Many of the exhibits were handmade by him and are viewed by many as folk art pieces now. The life-size mine pony is only one example of his artistic talent. He has been honored with a Governor’s Award for Volunteerism.
Kauzlarich explained that the windows were removed from a bank in Mystic, although he wasn’t sure which one it would be. Mystic had two banks during its boom years, when coal mining was growing the town by leaps and bounds. Mystic ended up almost as large as Corydon at one time. The two banks were the Bradley Bank of Mystic and the Mystic Industrial Savings Bank.
While researching the history of the banks, Eddy used the book “History of Mystic” that was compiled in 1987 by the Mystic Centennial Committee. There are photographs of each of the banks, the outside of the Bradley Bank and the interior of the Industrial Savings Bank. Sadly, the photocopy quality of the pictures makes it difficult to determine which bank would have boasted these lovely windows. If the original photos could be scanned, the answer might be revealed. The society is currently looking for any information about who may have the original photos.
Regardless of which bank owned the windows, they represent a time in Mystic that was busy and prosperous, when Mystic had doctors, dentists, pharmacies, clothing stores, cafes, hardware, lumber yards, grocery stores, a theater, a jewelry store, hotels, a skating rink, a newspaper and the Dreamland Ballroom where Lawrence Welk once played. The museum is anxious to tell Mystic’s story, beyond the coal mines, and these windows will help illustrate it.
Historical Society Board member Debbie Robinson is leading the effort to restore the windows. After the renovations of 2012, spending by the Historical Society has slowed down and the board agreed to restore the windows, but it must be done by fund raising and grants to cover the restoration costs. Just the cost of restoring the glass will be $3,400, and that doesn’t include framing and installation of the windows in an exhibit.
There are several ideas to raise funds for the project. The first was a raffle of an art piece that Robinson and fellow board member, Dana Moritz, created which raised more than $200. A rummage sale is planned for Saturday, May 4, at the museum. The parking lot will be saved for parking, but the tables will wrap around the building on the south, east and north sides. No artifacts from the museum will be in the sale. Only items donated to the society will be sold.
If anyone has items they would like to donate to the rummage sale, bring them by the museum from now until May 3, when there will be storage room for the items.