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History Corner By Pat Ross & Fran Snead


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June 08, 2006
The citizens of Martinsville and Henry County can be proud of the many historical and cultural opportunities available in our community. One of the best of these treasures is our library system. Over the past few decades, the local library system has grown from one building to a system consisting of a main library with five branches: Bassett, Collinsville, Ridgeway, Patrick Co. and the Historical Center. In addition to the branches located throughout Henry County and the branch in Patrick County, the library offers superb outreach programs. The services offered to our community by the Blue Ridge Regional Library system are excellent: books, magazines and all types of printed materials; reference materials; cds, videos and dvds; children's programs; seminars and gatherings to share and discuss topics of local interest and displays of artifacts and collections assembled by residents of the area. All of these services add greatly to our community; yet, the crown jewel of this library system remains one of the area's best-kept secrets.

The Historical Center is not to be confused with the Martinsville-Henry County Historical Society organized in 1996. The Society strives to preserve our local history through projects such as the restoration of the old Henry Co. Courthouse and the establishment of a historical museum in that building. Both entities preserve the history of our community, but the Martinsville-Henry County Historical Society is not a part of the Blue Ridge Regional Library System.

The Historical Center located at 3964 Fairystone Park Highway in Bassett is the repository for all local history and genealogical resources for this area. The beginning of the Historical Center was a single file cabinet and one or two shelves of genealogical material in the basement of the Bassett Public Library. After the flood of Labor Day in 1987, an addition was built to the library. In November 1988, the genealogical materials and the children's area were moved into this addition. In 1992, the Bassett Public Library became part of the Blue Ridge Regional Library System. Having outgrown its facility, the Bassett Branch Library moved across the street to a larger building in Nov. 1998. In the seven and a half years since that time the collections and materials housed at the Historical Center have increased to the point that funds are presently being raised for a 4195 sq.ft. addition. Some of the items available at the Historical Center include: family surname files; local history files; books containing family and county histories; books and photos of local homes, businesses and people; records from all Virginia counties and many other states especially those nearby; company collections of DuPont, Tultex, Bassett-Walker and others; excellent resources for local Afro-American research; internet access for census and other genealogical research; a whole room devoted to Native American studies and materials about all the wars in which America has been involved. The Historical Center houses one of the most comprehensive collections on the War Between the States, second only to the one found at the Library of Virginia. In addition, the Center provides space for local citizens to display personal collections. Some displays are permanent, showcasing donated items, others are shown for a limited time. A number of local citizens have entrusted their family histories, photos and artifacts to the Center where the items are lovingly preserved and shared with patrons.

The Historical Center has gained the national reputation of an outstanding research facility with patrons from every state and nine foreign countries. Yet, many people in our community are unaware of its existence. Please, take the time to visit and utilize this local treasure. www.bassetthistoricalcenter.com

If you should have any questions about the Historical Center or about the proposed expansion fund, please do not hesitate to call us.

Cindy Headen
Staff Assistant

Bassett Historical Center
Phone: 276-629-9191
3964 Fairystone Park Highway
Email: historical@brrl.lib.va.us
Bassett, Virginia 24055

"The Roots that make Us One are Stronger than the Branches that Divide Us."
Author unknown








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