Skyline Farms Rock Store Museum Interpretive Plan

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    Skyline Farms Rock Store

    MuseumInterpretive Plan

    802 County Road 25

    Skyline Farms, Alabama

    Prepared by Rebecca Duke, PhD CandidatePublic History

    Middle Tennessee State University

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    Table of Contents

    Executive Summary.3

    Mission Statement and Site Overview4

    Purpose of Plan... .6

    Major Interpretive Themes Represented in the Museum Collection...7

    Museum Exhibits10

    Educational Programming ......12

    Marketing...15

    Volunteer Development .....17

    Issues and OpportunitiesFuture Goals...18

    Appendices

    Driving Tour

    TPS lesson plans

    Volunteer Application

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    Executive Summary

    Skyline Farms was one of forty-three New Deal rural resettlement communities established by

    the Federal government in order to assist destitute families during the Great Depression. The

    Skyline Farms Rock Store Museum was founded in 2010 by the Skyline Farms Heritage

    Association (SFHA), a nonprofit organization formed to honor and preserve the history of thiscommunity. The Museum is located in the communitys original commissary building, built in

    1935.

    The Skyline Farms Heritage Association contacted the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle

    Tennessee State University to seek assistance with preservation and recommendations for the

    site. While the SFHA has collected an expansive collection, it lacked proper interpretive exhibit

    themes and educational direction. This interpretive plan is one of several documents that were

    created by PhD Candidate, Rebecca Duke; in order establish a framework for a sustainable

    heritage museum. The plan will provide a clear strategy in order to promote the local, regional,

    and national historical significance of this community.

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    Mission Statement

    The Skyline Farms Rock Store Museum will serve as an educational resource to promote the rich

    history of the Skyline Farms community from New Deal rural resettlement project years and the

    evolution of the community after the federal project ended. The mission of the Museum is to

    collect, preserve, study, exhibit, and stimulate appreciation for the material culture and history ofthe Skyline community.

    Site Overview

    Skyline Farms, located in Jackson County near Scottsboro, Alabama, is a New Deal farming

    community established in 1934 by the Resettlement Administration. Federal officials established

    this cooperative, agricultural colony atop a plateau on the Cumberland Mountain in the

    Appalachian region of Northeast Alabama.1 Skyline was one of forty-three rural resettlement

    projects that were created in order to provide jobs for out of work farmers during the GreatDepression.During this time, the landscape endured tremendous changes, including the clearing

    of land and the construction of roads and structures throughout an 18,000 square-acre area.

    Many of Skylines current residents were children during the project years and continue to have

    great pride for the area. Several of these people, including local teachers and businessmen,

    formed the Skyline Farms Heritage Association (SFHA) in 1998 in reaction to the possible

    razing of the communitys school, which was built during the colony years. Together with the

    Alabama Preservation Alliance, the group filed an injunction that saved the building. The

    building was then listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. The mission of the

    Skyline Farms Heritage Association is to preserve, restore, protect, and promote the history ofthe Skyline and Cumberland Mountain area in order to inspire residents to shape the

    communities future with a greater appreciation and respect for their shared heritage, and to

    foster among all Cumberland Mountain residents and visitors a deeper appreciation of the

    important historical role that the mountains people have played in local, state, national and

    world history.2

    After the successful preservation of the school, the SFHA rallied again in 2005 to save the

    commissary from being sold to a private party for use as an apartment building.3 A SFHA board

    member purchased the building, and has since entrusted it to the SFHA board to use as the

    community heritage museum. Upon the initial opening of the Museum, artifacts were displayedin a rather unorganized fashion with little to no identification of the objects. Artifacts were not

    displayed or stored using museum best practices. The majority of the object labeling identified

    1Wayne Flynt, Poor But Proud(Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1989), 307.

    2Skyline Farms Heritage Association, Membership Pamphlet, accessed at the Commissary, Skyline Farms, Alabama.

    3Presentation by Cindy Rice at the Alabama Association of Museums Annual Meeting. February 21, 2013.

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    who owned it and provided no context or historical significance for the piece. The SFHA

    entered a partnership with the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State

    University in the fall of 2010, and the museum has since endured a complete restructuring of the

    physical layout and exhibit design. Additionally, numerous management policies have been

    developed to create a sustainable framework for operation the museum.

    Skyline Farms Store, 1937, Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Farm Security Administration Collection

    The commissary is one of the existing buildings that was part of the community town center.

    Construction on the building started in 1935 and opened as the New Deal projects commissary

    in 1937. It continued to operate as a general store until 2005. The commissary is one of the

    public buildings that is extant from the project years. The New Deal era administrative building

    and community school, which is still in operation, are located across the street from the

    commissary building.

    The Skyline Farms Rock Store Museum is located at the intersection of County Road 25 and

    County Road 107 in Skyline, Alabama. The museum currently houses approximately 625

    artifacts, a research area, and numerous photographs of the community taken during the project

    years by the Farm Security Administration.

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    Purpose of the Interpretive Plan

    An interpretive plan is an outcome based plan that sets interpretive goals by relating content in a

    meaningful way to a visitors own experience. The plan takes into account the needs of its

    collections, its management, and its visitors and determines the most effective way to

    communicate that message.

    The interpretive plan addresses things like major exhibit themes, exhibit design, and public

    programming. It identifies interpretation, education, and the overall visitor experience and

    effective ways to meet these goals.

    The Skyline Farms Rock Store Museum interpretive plan will identify and guide proper

    interpretive and educational programming which preserves and enhances the sites local, state,

    and national historical significance. The plan highlights recommendations related to:

    Interpretation Exhibit Design Educational Programming Marketing Volunteer Development

    Goals:

    To spark interest in the history of Skyline Farms and visitation to the Skyline Farms RockStore Museum.

    To educate the community of its own historical significance, as well as visitors. To provide a meaningful, educational experience for its visitors. To serve as a location for research for the Skyline Farms project. To educate the visitor of the impact of New Deal programs on the nations poor. To increase the volunteer base for the Skyline Farms Rock Store Museum.

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    Major Interpretive Themes Represented in the Museum Collection

    After examining the museums collection, it is clear that there are seven distinct interpretive

    themes represented. Artifacts were placed into thematic sections accordingly. They are:

    Establishing Skyline Farms

    The significance of the Commissary Education at Skyline Farms Music Handicrafts Life in the Colony Agriculture

    Establishing Skyline Farms

    The establishment of the Skyline community is historically significant on a local, state, and

    national level. It is not only the story of the struggles of local families during the Great

    Depression, but it also demonstrates the Federal governments actions to help relieve destitute

    families.

    The creation of Skyline Farms altered the landscape of an 18,000 square acre area by the clearing

    of land and the construction of roads and numerous structures. Population in this area grew from

    128 residents in 1930 to 1,495 in 1940, and assisted 238 families during the projects tenure.4

    Rothstein, Arthur.Family of resettled famer living in temporary shack while new house is being built. Skyline

    Farms, Alabama, 1935. Courtesy of Library of Congress, Farms Security Administration.

    4Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. 1940 Census,

    http://1940census.archives.gov/viewer/show.asp?signature=08eb22ca14b6f900407fe801f3e08d9c&mode