Years ago, Maxine Olsen and former town council member Dianne Hicks had an idea to preserve the Old Harness Shop, which was owned by Don Rinehart, on Main Street, in Jane Lew.
They headed an effort to turn the shop into a museum, which now holds memorabilia from its days as a harness shop, Jane Lew High School, local defunct factories and other Jane Lew related items.
Current Mayor Ruth Straley has put out the call for volunteers to assist in opening the museum for the public.
Her hope is to find volunteers interested in history, “especially Jane Lew history,” she added.
Even if the museum could open on weekends, and the town could enlist the help of the Lewis County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to advertise would be a positive in Straley’s eyes.
“I’d love to hear from anyone interested in putting some time. I’m really proud of it,” she said.
Straley can remember The Old Harness Shop from her childhood days, if only because it was directly across the street from Mary Jane’s Restaurant.
“We all stopped at Mary Jane’s after school. You could get a Coke and a pack of Nabs for 10 cents,” she recalled.
The restaurant has since closed, but the Mary Jane’s Restaurant sign has a place in the museum.
To the right of the sign, a row of Jane Lew High School auditorium seats have their place, donated by Bill Henderson. In an opposite corner, a tribute to Jane Lew High School is displayed, complete with yearbooks, old textbooks, desks, and basketball hoops.
Old letterman’s jackets are hung up, with a shelf above holding a pair of majorette boots and a catcher’s mitt. Although the old high school has been torn down, pictures of the building are also displayed in the museum.
The Lewis County Glass
Factory and the Jane Lew Brick Factory are remembered in
pictures. Atop one of the counters stands glass made from the factory. To the left of the glass is a money bag from The People’s Bank, which is where Town Hall is today.
Residents have donated photographs, such as a picture of Prince’s Service Station, and Mary Davisson donated her husband’s Purple Heart he earned in WWII.
Hanging on the walls are framed newspaper clippings from 1943, honoring Jane Lew residents who were fighting in WWII at the time.
Anyone wishing to donate items is more than welcome to do so, as well. Any volunteers would be responsible for cataloguing items, old and new.
To volunteer or for more information, call Jane Lew Town Hall at 304-884-7910.