On the west end of Second Street sits an old train depot filled with vintage treasures.
The depot is now the Marion County Historical Museum. But now the museum has something new, a new curator.
Carol Durham has taken over the duties left vacant when Chris Watts accepted another job last year.
“I love history, and I’ve done a lot genealogy,” she said. “My main thing is I love alternating the looks and changing exhibits, getting people interested and drawing them in.”
Durham said she is not the historian her predecessor was but she considers him a great resource to her.
“I have all kinds of ideas of things I want to do. My first week I visited nine different museums,” she said.
Durham was born in Kentucky, but her mother was raised by the Watts family in Columbia. Durham moved to Columbia and attended junior high and high schools here before going off to college. She received a master’s degree in art from the University of Louisiana - Monroe.
From there she started teaching art. She took a job working on Madison Avenue in New York City for Binney & Smith, the makers of Crayola Crayons and other art supplies. Durham worked as an art consultant for the schools in New York City, demonstrating how the various art supplies can be used.
Durham continue to work for Binney & Smith as an art consultant in the Atlanta area and also in California, working the western district in the company.
Eventually Durham went back to New York City and became involved in graphic arts. At one point, she took a trip to Africa and fell in love with the elephants.
The thought of growing old in New York City did not appeal to her, even though she had lived there for more than 20 years, but she was concerned how she would adjust after life in the big city to small town America.
“I got to thinking there is no place like home; my parents are gone but my sister, Marcela Ward, is here,” she said.
Her first stop to becoming a small town girl again was in Tennessee, where she worked at The Elephant Sanctuary for six years. Not only did she work in the barns and help at the sanctuary, but she also started using her talents as an artist and graphic artist. Durham worked with a gentleman who had a very large taxidermy display of African animals at a local museum so she set up his exhibits and displays.
Durham made her way to Foxworth where she purchased a home and some land three years ago. She got involved with the art gallery Artwistic. After doing improvements to her home, she decided it was time to get involved in the community when Marion County Development Partnership President Lori Watts mentioned the museum to her.
She jumped at the opportunity.
One of Durham’s goals is making the museum more interactive for people. She wants to make it more of a learning place and not just reading signs.
Another idea she is contemplating is oral history night. It would be once a month and someone would come and talk about a particular topic that night, such as a former factory and all it went through.
“Hopefully it would be some of the older folks gather with the younger folks to hear the history,” Durham said.
Durham is hoping to have three major exhibits a year, changing out items, creating focus on other areas of history in Marion County, such as a railroad exhibit.
The hours of the museum are Tuesday through Thursday, 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. and Friday, 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.