Students enrolled in a public history summer course at NKU will begin restoring a log cabin schoolhouse located on campus as their class project. Dr. Brian Hackett, director of the NKU public history program, said the project will give students some first-hand experience in historic restoration.
“The idea is that since most of our students end up working in historic sites or museums they should know some historic building basics,” Hackett said.
According to a Kentucky Historic Society marker, the cabin once stood adjacent to Gosney School in Grant’s Lick and typifies the first schoolhouses built in Campbell County during the 1800s. The students in Hackett’s class plan to clean out the inside of the cabin and remove any loose chinking material between the logs. Hackett said “cabin experts” hired by the university will then make necessary repairs to the weathered structure. The next step will be to restore the cabin to look more like it did when it was originally built.
“We will find sources for the right windows, hardware and chinking material,” Hackett said. “As for the inside, we would probably put in benches and some sort of primitive blackboard.”
When the class project is completed, Hackett would like to have electricity in the cabin so it can be used for historic programs.
One current student and a recent graduate of the NKU Public History Masters Program are involved in two off-campus projects this summer.
Brandon Stephens, who received a Master of Arts in Public History last month, is redesigning the Disabled American Veterans Museum in Cold Spring, KY and Steve Hicks, who enrolled in the master’s program last fall, is helping the Railway Museum of Greater Cincinnati acquire a space to store, organize and exhibit small railroad historical artifacts.
Stephens said improving the Disabled American Veterans Museum and managing its collection of historical objects will help visitors learn more about the local organization that was started in 1920.
“Presently the collection has a massive number of impressive objects,” Stephens said. “My job is to ensure that they are more accessibly presented to the public and that they are properly cared for and preserved for future generations.”
Stephens started working on the DAV project as a student intern and was offered a job with the organization in May. He hopes to reopen the museum in the late summer or early fall of 2013.
“Getting to work for an organization that actively helps our veterans is incredibly rewarding,” he said. “I get to work with amazing items every day, including paintings by famous artists and presidential documents. I feel actively involved in the field of history and educating the public outside of an academic setting.”
Hicks is working with the Railway Museum for his master’s degree capstone project. He wasn’t interested in the assignment at first, but that changed when he talked with Tim Hyde, director of the museum located in Covington.
“After doing some research on the railroads I realized they influenced every aspect of America’s growth from 1828 until the present day,” Hicks said. “I feel fortunate that I have the opportunity to help Tim and the Railway Museum.”
The long-term goal of the project is raising funds to build a museum resembling a train terminal. Hicks plans to do everything he can to see that happen.
“At first, I really didn’t know why I decided to enter the public history program other than my love of history,” he said. “I am starting to realize an opportunity like the Railway Museum presents is exactly why I joined the program.”