The Society’s Underground: Fascinating, Not Frightening!

Textile Vault Shelving 10 (1)

Entrance to the Textile’s Iva M. Shoolroy Vault.

With Halloween just around the corner, we thought it would be fun to tour the “haunted halls” of the underground storage areas of the Wayne County Historical Society. Well, as it turns out, things really are not so scary beneath the surface. In fact, there are some really cool happenings going on down there!

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Current Textile Vault shelving system on interior vault wall.

The bright and talented women who volunteer in the Textile Vault to ensure everything from wedding dresses to quilts are preserved for many years to come are undertaking a new storage system for these items. Allyson Leisy, Ginny Gunn, Mary Eberhart and Julie Mennes are the hard working volunteers that dedicate their time to the Textile Vault. They have worked diligently to make certain all of the Society’s textiles pieces are well cared for, documented, and preserved. The vault is comprised of two parts, and the Iva M. Schoolroy portion has been in use for nearly 10 years. When it was first finished, particle board shelving with a laminate coating was installed (picture at left) on both the exterior and interior walls. Nearly a decade later, these shelves have proved themselves less than ideal for this application. The archival boxes which store the textile treasures are too deep for the current shelving system, and do not fit well for their length. This has resulted in an inefficient storage system and lots of wasted space. In addition, past water issues in the society’s basement have resulted in some damage to the shelves.

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New Textile Vault wooden shelving.

The answer? New wooden shelving (picture at right) that is heavily varnished to prevent water infiltration and built to specifications that keep the box size and ease of use in mind. The volunteers designed the shelves and Allyson’s husband, Ray, is the craftsman who is building them. The new shelves perfectly house two boxes per section with enough room to easily move them about one another. Only two can be stacked at a time, so there is no more worry of overloading shelves and damaging their contents. The boxes are now safely off the floor and away from the exterior wall, so water infiltration should no longer be a problem. One of the shelving units has been completed and installed in the vault, and Ray is working hard to get the other ones finished. Once completed, the shelves will run two at a time down the center of the room, with spaces left open for flow between rows, and along the interior wall. The exterior wall will be open for work tables as well as for storage of mannequins and other items less subject to water and moisture damage. The Society is very proud of our wonderful textile collections, and these volunteers are critical to ensuring the contents are around for years to come.

In addition to the four women mentioned above, many other volunteers have dedicated their time to the Textile Vault. Recently, the Textile Committee lost one of its original members, Treva McConahay. For more information on Treva and her sister, Ruth, please visit our website here.


Can’t get enough?

The underground tunnel and basement system at the society is not only a storage facility for all of our wonderful items that are not currently on display, but it is also home to three vaults: Textile, Military and Documents. The Wooster Weekly News recently published an article on these areas, so please make sure to check that out here. In addition, there is a great write-up on our website about the humidity chamber used by the Documents Vault here.

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