The Seneca County Museum, located at 28 Clay Street, continues to be a bastion of local history as it makes new improvements for the coming year.
The former home of local businessman Rezin W. Shawhan, the museum, located in the Fort Ball-Railroad Historic District, honors history in both is contents and its architectural history.
Shawhan moved to Tiffin in 1832 and opened a store with his brother. His success led to expansion into real estate and banking, and upon his death in 1887, his estate was valued at over $1 million—$27 million today. The museum was originally built in 1853 as a Greek Revival style home, and was passed down until Lynn Troxel donated it to the county in 1941 for use as a museum.
Along with some of the home’s original furnishings, you’ll find collections of Tiffin Glass, pottery, early firearms, primitive house wares, toys, Indian artifacts, fire-fighting equipment, Civil War memorabilia and much more.
Dedicated in 2018, the Seneca County Museum historical marker can be found on the front lawn of the museum.
The Barnes-Deinzer Seneca County Museum Foundation has assumed responsibility of running the museum and new Director Theresa Sullivan reports directly to the foundation.
After starting in November, Sullivan said she has been working on housekeeping and inventory at the museum, along with Barnes-Deinzer Museum Foundation volunteers.
Now, they’re getting calls about how to help, said Sullivan. The museum is always looking for volunteers.
Sullivan said during the closures from the pandemic, they have started making improvements such as repainting. They will also be converting a room into a gift shop, where historical, local authors can sell their books.
They will also be improving their library and opening it into a research center, along with expanding the hours to allow people to search without the museum being full of visitors.
Public events such as author presentations will also be in the near future. As they reopen, they hope to do more school outreach, Sullivan said.
In 2019, the museum held a naming contest to get the kids excited about learning, which led to the museum’s famous four legged duck being named Ducky McQuacker.
“I’m hoping to make history more engaging for the kids,” Sullivan said. “I like to personalize history. You understand people by learning history, and then the lesson becomes far more important.”
The Fort Ball Room has a capacity of 60 people and is available to the community for meetings. It is handicapped accessible. Contact the Seneca County Museum at 419-447-5955. Currently, it is closed for interior work, but call for hours. They are planning to open back up in May when inventory is complete.
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