Washington County History Museum
Washington County History Museum is located in Chatom, Washington County, and maintained by the Washington County Historical and Genealogical Society. The Washington County Historical Society, founded in 1978, and the Genealogical Society, founded in 1996, merged in January 1999. The museum opened in 1965 and is overseen by a board of directors.
Washington County Museum The museum houses artifacts related to local and county history. One notable piece is a 750-year-old Native American canoe that was recovered from the Tombigbee River in 1973. Another highlight in the center of the exhibit room is a millstone that was used to grind corn into meal. Other exhibits are related to the timber and turpentine industries, as well as transportation and communication memorabilia from the county. There are many clothing artifacts, including Native American clothing, antique and hand-sewn wedding dresses, military uniforms, and other military items. The museum also displays photo collections and information regarding casualties from Washington County during World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam War and the country’s several branches of military service as well as law enforcement.
There is also education memorabilia, including school registers, two of which are from segregated high schools for African Americans from the 1930s, and a diploma from Prestwick High School dated from 1953. These artifacts demonstrate the museum’s commitment to preserving local and individual history from Washington County, as the names of the individuals are still presented on the registers and diplomas. Leroy High School, one of the segregated schools present on the registers, is now an integrated high school that is still open in Washington County.
The museum has a Hall of Fame for local citizens and sponsors the Hall of Fame Ceremony presided over by the museum’s board of directors. In it, individuals who were born and live in the county and have had successful careers are recognized for their achievement and contributions in the areas of education, music and fine arts, government, business and industry, religion, health and medicine, and community service.
The museum is located at 45 Court St. in Chatom in the basement of the Washington County Courthouse. It is open between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and has free admission with self-guided tours. Nearby is Old St. Stephens, the first seat of government in Alabama during the territorial period.