- Associated Press - Monday, July 11, 2016

FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) - Pope’s Tavern museum will soon be a little cooler and better able to preserve the memorabilia it houses.

The City Council approved a contract with J.C. Hamm and Sons to install a heating and air conditioning unit.

The museum, which houses local and Civil War relics, does not have climate control in the upstairs portion of the former inn, stagecoach stop, and Civil War hospital. This puts much of the collection, especially the pieces made of cloth or paper, at risk of damage, curator Wayne Higgins said.

“Extreme temperature is not good for the artifacts,” Higgins said. “It’s also uncomfortable for the tourists, and those are the two big issues.”

Higgins said he is the one who brought attention of the need to Libby Jordan, the director of Florence Arts and Museums. Jordan “jumped on it quickly,” he said.



The new unit will have two components, one for each room of the upstairs portion.

Higgins said Jordan saw the problem firsthand when she came to inspect the room while tours were taking place.

“(The unit) will make a tremendous difference, not only for the tourists and visitors themselves but also for the protection of the artifacts. It will keep (those in the upstairs rooms) at a current temperature, which is much better as far as preservation goes,” Jordan said.

During the Civil War, the upstairs portion of the tavern was used to house soldiers after they were treated in the hospital downstairs. Two windows, one on each end, let fresh air in, but since then the windows have been covered by a panel and a 1903 confederate flag so no excess heat comes into the two rooms.

“We have a lot of artifacts up here that are extremely valuable not just monetarily, but also historically,” Higgins said.

Some of the items that are especially susceptible to the damaging conditions include General O’Neal’s Confederate coat, two Confederate flags, and several weapons that could rust if kept in the current situation.

Until the unit is installed, Higgins keeps the lights off upstairs in between visitors to ward off any extra heat.

“There is just a little bit of cooling (from the downstairs unit) that comes in through the vents, but the lights pretty much nullify any cool air that comes through,” he said.

The new unit will cost $6,100 to purchase and install, and the project should be completed in the next few weeks, Jordan said.

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Information from: TimesDaily, https://www.timesdaily.com/

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