Housewarming party to honor 200th anniversary of Washington County's LeMoyne family
By Rachel Weaver
Published: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
A “housewarming party” honoring the 200th anniversary of the LeMoyne family's move into their East Maiden Street home in Washington will give the Washington County Historical Society a kickoff campaign to increase awareness of its mission and scope.
On Saturday, the society will host the party at the Elks Club. It will offer tours of the LeMoynes' stately stone residence and doctor's office, which became a stop on the Underground Railroad and now houses the historical society.
“Anytime there's an anniversary for a building, we celebrate the building itself,” said society director Clay Kilgore. “This house is great, but it wouldn't have been anything without the LeMoyne family.
“We want to celebrate the family.”
Physician John Julius LeMoyne built the house in 1812, and the family moved in early 1813. His son, Francis Julius LeMoyne, also a physician, became an abolitionist who opened his properties as stops along the Underground Railroad.
His charitable acts included founding the Washington Female Seminary, funding several chairs at Washington College (now Washington & Jefferson), starting Citizens Library and founding LeMoyne College (now LeMoyne-Owen College) in Memphis to educate freed slaves.
LeMoyne House now is a museum filled with period artifacts dedicated to the family.
Madeleine LeMoyne, Francis LeMoyne's youngest daughter, donated the home to the society after her death in 1943 at age 100. The parlor, dining room, apothecary and bedroom showcase some original furnishings.
The society invited several LeMoyne descendants, who live primarily in California, to the housewarming, Kilgore said.
Though the historical society operates from the house, its scope reaches far beyond the LeMoyne family, Kilgore said. The society's collection includes documents and artifacts dating to the 1600s, archives and a library. Some items are displayed throughout LeMoyne House. Two rooms on the second floor are devoted to the region's military history.
It's such details, and the society's mission, that Kilgore hopes a branding campaign will bring more prominently to fore.
“We want to let people know we're here and we are in the LeMoyne House, but we're saving all the history of Washington County.”
On Saturday, partygoers can take horse-drawn carriages from the Elks Club to and from LeMoyne House for tours.
The society wants to move its offices across Maiden Street to a smaller home that could be its museum and storage space, and devote LeMoyne House to the family's history.
It will raise money through an auction of items that include two framed and signed prints — Nat Youngblood's “Mudder's Day” and Ray Forquer's “In From The Fields” — and a week's vacation at an oceanfront condo on Kure Beach, N.C.
As part of its awareness campaign, society members are reaching out to smaller history and heritage groups to share ideas and resources.
“The entire county is working together to save history,” Kilgore said.
Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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