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Hittin’ The Town: Local museum full of historical treasures

The Museum of Fulton County has an impressive collection that attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Hittin’ The Town - The Museum of Fulton County
Published: Apr. 22, 2022 at 4:44 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - There are a lot of great museums to explore around the region. And that includes the Museum of Fulton County. The museum is home to an impressive collection. Scott Lonsdale is the operations manager. “A museum’s job is to not only to educate but also to entertain. And not just one age group. We have to be able to engage children so they have fun, but grandma and grandpa have to be having fun and learning as well.”

Scott is right where he always wanted to be. “Did you grow up saying I want to run a museum? That’s exactly what I did.”

The museum is filled with all kinds of different examples of our region’s rich history. That includes artifacts from the Native Americans who first lived here to equipment used by local soldiers who fought in the Civil War. “We’re really trying to focus in on people’s stories not just a general view of what history is.”

There are all sorts of treasures tucked away in the 4,000 square-feet of exhibit space. “Whatever your interest range is, we’ve got something for you.”

Although the main museum building is relatively new, it’s design is a nod to the area’s early history. John Swearingen is the director of the museum. “We decided rather than build a modern museum, we recreated the original courthouse that burned down during the Civil War.”

John says there are exhibits dedicated to famous people from the area. “Berna Oldefield was his real name but they called him Barney. He was a movie star and a race car driver from Fulton County. He raced in 1902 in Henry ford’s famous race car, 999, which is now at the Henry Ford Museum. He was the first man to drive 60 mph on a circular track.”

And then there’s the architect whose work is still a big part of our landscape. “Carl Britsch was born in Archbold and he became an important architect throughout northwest Ohio. He designed the old Perrysburg High School and Archbold High School too. He designed churches in places like Bellevue, and a lot of homes in Ottawa Hills.”

There’s even an exhibit featuring a local product that went to space. “We have one of the flashlights made for the Apollo Mission. 100 Of them were made by Fulton Industries and used by NASA, not only for the Apollo Mission, but also for the shuttle program. The company still has a contract with the federal government and has plants in Defiance and Fulton County.”

The gallery exhibits rotate twice a year, right now, one of them features toys made by Fulton County companies. “Ohio Art started in Archbold in Fulton County. It’s products were sold all over the world. We had four other companies that made toys that were very popular in the 50s and 60s. You can come to the exhibit to see some of the original toys.”

Lonsdale says the goal with everything here is simple. “There’s a certain sparkle in someone’s eye when they learn something new or see something they didn’t know existed, and that makes it all worth it.”

The museum is open seven days a week. About 13,000 people visit the museum’s five sites every year.

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