MOUNT VERNON — It was the summer of 1987 when the Knox County Historical Society opened its first museum in Mount Vernon in the 6,000-square foot building that had been the former Yamaha motorcycle dealership, located at 875 Harcourt Road. The building had been selected over several other possibilities because it was all one level, was handicapped accessible, had ample parking space, and provided an overhead door for easy access to the two large Cooper steam engines that were the highlights of the collection of Knox County artifacts.
The purchase of the building was made possible through a generous matching grant from Cooper Industries, which combined with the society’s savings and other donations, completed the purchase in 1987. Since that time, the society has added a new 6,000-square foot exhibit room, a 2,500-square foot Cooper-Bessemer wing, a large storage facility and 16 additional acres of land adjoining the museum. The collections of area historical artifacts have grown dramatically as well, to include two additional Cooper steam engines and a 70,000-pound compressor, an early Ariel Corp. compressor, an experimental private aircraft and thousands of local items that are displayed in more than 50 different exhibit topics.
The historical society will celebrate its 25th anniversary on Wednesday, Sept. 5, with an open house from 2 to 7 p.m., followed by a slide program at 7:30, showing highlights of the museum’s birth and growth over the years. The day’s activities will be free and open to the public, and all members and past officers and board members are especially invited to attend. For more information call the museum at 393-5247.