Museum ribbon cutting 1998

The Tipton County Museum held its grand opening and ribbon cutting in 1998.

The Tipton County Museum, Veterans Memorial and Nature Center will celebrate its 20th anniversary this week with a reception held on Friday, Nov. 9 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the museum. The event is open to the public. 

The idea for the museum started as the state bicentennial project for Tipton County in 1996 to honor local veterans, and was originally planned as the Tipton County War Memorial Museum and Nature Center. 

Located on 20 acres the city purchased for $190,000, with the assistance of a parks and recreation grant from the state, the 3,900 square foot building was originally planned to be shared by the Tipton County Veterans Council and the Covington Parks and Recreation Department, which wanted a nature center for the city. The two organizations later decided it would be in the best interest of all to combine efforts to become the Tipton County Museum, Veterans Memorial and Nature Center. 

Although the cost of the building was estimated to be $350,000, the Veterans Council didn’t have a problem raising the funds because of the tremendous support each community throughout Tipton County provided. Tipton County and the City of Covington, each gave $50,000 towards the building fund, Munford and Atoka provided $13,000 each, the towns of Mason and Brighton gave $6,500 and $5,000, respectively, Gilt Edge provided $3,000, Burlison $2,000 and Garland gave $1,000. 

Veterans’ organizations gave $16,000, the county’s financial organizations provided $29,000 and the business community gave a generous $65,000. 

Individual citizens gave just over $19,000 and the sale of memorial bricks brought in another $55,000.

 In all, Tipton County raised more than $654,000 for the establishment of the new museum and nature area. 

When the building was completed in 1998, the museum’s director at the time, Clare Culver, Vincent Clark, museum curator and historian, and Alice Fisher, promotions director, who later became the museum’s director for more than 15 years, planned a series of opening ceremony events scheduled for the week of Veterans Day, Nov. 11. 

The choirs from Brighton, Munford and Covington High Schools gave patriotic concerts, a Veterans Day parade and luncheon was held, as well as Educator Appreciation and Family Days. Mr. and Mrs. G. P. Singleton, parents of Sgt. Walter Singleton who was killed in Vietnam, cut the ribbon to officially open the museum on Nov. 11, 1998.  State Representative Jimmy Naifeh gave the key address and special recognition was given to Pam Beasley, Bill Jim Davis, Bob Hensley, Jimmy Naifeh, and Nels Tanner for their hard work and dedication in making the museum a reality. 

Vernon Parimore of Covington Granite Works built two granite monuments, which are still on permanent display at the Museum and attest to the strength and fortitude of the American people. The first is a 30,000-pound granite memorial, funded by the County’s veterans, which lists the names of Tipton County’s servicemen who died during wartime, beginning with the Mexican War and ending with Vietnam. The second, is a 16-foot tall, three foot wide granite monument, honoring Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest and commemorates his visit to Covington on Sept. 22, 1876 and his last public speech which was given to the men he had commanded in the 7th Tennessee Cavalry. The General Nathan Bedford Forrest Calvary Memorial was sponsored and funded by members of the Sons of Confederate veterans, the Forrest Calvary Corps Association, the Tipton County Historical Society and the Jerry Cumberland family. 

The multi-faceted facility was designed to serve a diverse group of community members and to be a showcase for historical preservation, veterans’ history and environmental education.  

Today, current Museum Director, Barrie Foster is extremely proud of the changes the past 20 years has brought to the Museum and looks forward to meeting the challenges the future will bring. 

“Our goal is to bring people in through the doors. Through our various programs such as, Veteran of the Month, art lectures, children’s programs or nature and history exhibits, the walking trail and herb garden, we have something for everyone here at the Tipton County Museum,” she said. “This year we’re looking forward to expanding those offerings by taking the Museum out to the community, through outreach programs to the schools and by making available our collection online. We want to make it easier for Tipton Countians to understand the rich history they have here in Tipton County.”

Park visitors can experience the wetlands and the half-mile nature trail, any day of the week. A variety of animals, birds and insects can be found on the grounds, connecting them with natural life in West Tennessee. An herb garden maintained by the Tipton County Master Gardeners, educates the public on the different culinary, medicinal, tea and pollinator herbs available. The Museum also provides a variety of children’s programs, art classes, gardening lectures, history or genealogy program, all designed with education and the preservation of Tipton County in mind. 

From the Museum’s first exhibit of World War II with its more than 200 donated and loaned artifacts, to present day exhibits of military, nature, and now, Tipton County history, the Tipton County Museum, Veteran Memorial and Nature Center continues to look toward the future while honoring and remembering its past.    

The Tipton County Museum, Veterans Memorial and Nature Center, parking lot and nature trail are open from Tuesday thru Friday  9a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Museum is closed on Sunday and Monday.

Echo Day is The Leader's managing editor. To contact her, call 901-476-7116 or email eday@covingtonleader.com.

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