LAWRENCEVILLE – Friends and supporters of the James Solomon Russell/Saint Paul’s College Museum & Archives gathered for an Open House on Saturday, May 26, 2018, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Over 150 people visited the museum to see the many rare artifacts, photographs, documents and other items relating to the life of James Solomon Russell and Saint Paul’s College from the late 1800s to 2013 when the college closed.
Alumni from Saint Paul’s College and James Solomon Russell High school, members of the Russell family and others that attended, toured the museum, shared memories and stories and enjoyed fellowship with one another. Several alumni brought items that they donated to the museum’s collection.
Also in attendance was Dr. Iris Lucille King. a member of the 1944 first graduating baccalaureate class and recipient of the Saint Paul’s College National Alumni Association, Inc. - Distinguished Alumni Service Award for 1995. The 1944 class transitioned Saint Paul’s from the two-year Normal Certificate Program to the full four-year degree program.
James Grimstead, Chairman of the Museum, was very pleased with the interest and support from those who attended.
“I was thrilled to see the vast number visitors for the open house from all over the East coast and from our local community. There seemed to be a crowd in every exhibit room. Our host committee did an outstanding job serving and directing the visitors and explaining the many exhibits. It was also exciting to see many of the Russell family in attendance,” said Grimstead. “The visitors were so enthusiastic that they want to return; and inquired about our regular hours. One of our goals is to bring newcomers to this area and I feel we are off to a good start”.
Several members of the Russell family, who were on hand for the open house, expressed their thoughts and gratitude at what is being done to preserved the legacy of James Solomon Russell and Saint Paul’s College.
“May 26 was a day of fond remembrance for me. To see all the photographs and other memorabilia preserved and displayed brought back memories of childhood and family. You take things for granted until they’re all gone,” said J. Alvin Russell, III., great grandson of James Solomon Russell and the son of former Saint Paul’s College President Dr. James A. Russell, Jr. “The legacy of St. Paul’s College, its founder, pictures of my grandparents and family and students and meeting those who attended will be with me for a long time. The museum is a testament to the work of James Solomon Russell and is relevant to all.”
“I thought the grand opening was wonderful. Witnessing the joy and pride on the faces of my family, alumni, and friends of the college spoke volumes to their experiences at dear St. Paul’s College. SPC has a very rich and dynamic past. It has produced some of the finest teachers, farmers, business professionals, tradesmen, statesmen, and clergymen in America and abroad. Many thanks to Mr. James Grimstead, Mrs. Shirley Grimstead, Mr. Bobby Conner, Rev. Terrence Walker, the Museum Committee, the Support Staff, and the Museum Volunteers,” said Henry P. Russell, Jr., another great grandson of James Solomon Russell.
A new Adopt-An-Artifact program was introduced during the open house as a way to help preserve some of the rare photographs, documents and other items in the collection.
The program is a unique way to help support the museum in the preventative care and treatment of all objects in the collection and helps to ensure their long-term preservation. Adopting an artifact provides personal way to become involved with the museum and help provide the financial funding needed to continue the mission of the museum.
One example of an item that individuals, groups, alumni, businesses, etc. can adopt would be one of the hundreds of vintage photographs that are part of the museum’s collection. The adoption would allow the item to be digitally archived and then professionally framed to be hung in the museum. A plaque identifying who adopted the item will be attached to the frame before it is put on display. The cost for adopting artifacts will vary according to the item.
Also, during the open house, it was announced that the museum has begun the development of the James Solomon Russell Heritage Trail, which will be a driving trail and anchored from the museum. A map and interpretive brochure is being developed to include Russell’s place of education, all the churches and schools he helped organize, Saint Paul’s College and other sites which relate to Russell, his life and work.
Interpretive markers will also be developed that will be located at each stop on the trail to give more information about each particular site.
A Facebook page has been established, which is named the James Solomon Russell/Saint Paul’s College Museum and a website is in the process of being developed.
The James Solomon Russell/Saint Paul’s College Museum was established two years ago is incorporated and has been granted non-profit status by the IRS. All donations are tax deductible and will help support the museum’s mission of preserving artifacts and other historical materials relating to the history and heritage of James Solomon Russell and Saint Paul’s College.
The museum is located at 219 North Main Street in Lawrenceville, Virginia, and is directly across the street from the Courthouse Square and was the former Virginia National Bank and School Board Office. There is no charge for admission and is open to all alumni groups and the general public.
For more information about the new programs or to become involved with the museum, contact James Grimstead at (434) 848-2173 or by mail, P. O. Box 551, Lawrenceville, Virginia 23868.