Often referred to as one of the “Crown Jewels” of Main Street, the Bluegrass Heritage Museum occu­pies a state­ly 128-year-old Romanesque Revival build­ing on South Main Street that once housed the Guerrant Clinic. The muse­um cov­ers the his­to­ry of the Bluegrass peo­ple and places from the Eskippakithiki Indian set­tle­ments to the mod­ern era.

Recently Chuck Witt caught up with Sandy Stults, direc­tor of the muse­um since 2006.

WCNV – Thanks for tak­ing the time from putting away your Christmas dec­o­ra­tions.  I want­ed to start by ask­ing what year the muse­um opened to the public.

SS – 2004

WCNV – And for a while, only the first floor was open to the public?

SS – Actually only a part of the first floor.  The back por­tion was still closed off when we opened the doors but we want­ed to move ahead and see how the com­mu­ni­ty would accept a muse­um.  The stair to the sec­ond floor was also opened, but the only space occu­pied on the sec­ond floor was my office and you should remem­ber that since you were down here help­ing paint the room.  I remem­ber you say­ing that a canary would get lost in here because of the yel­low color.

WCNV – I do remem­ber.  So when were the upper floors made avail­able to the public?

SS – The first part of the sec­ond floor opened in 2007 and was com­plet­ed in 2008.  The first room to open up here was the mil­i­tary his­to­ry room, and we imme­di­ate­ly saw a large num­ber of donat­ed items for that room.  I remem­ber that a lot of vet­er­ans were involved and every time they came in they would start talk­ing about their ser­vice, so it took longer to get the room pre­pared.  (At this point Sandy chuck­led at the mem­o­ry).  Everything was opened in 2009.

WCNV – You took over the direc­tor­ship in what year?

SS – 2006

WCNV – There were some direc­tors before you weren’t there?

SS – There were three, Nancy Turner, who went on to become direc­tor of the Tourism Commission.  Clare Sipple was direc­tor for a short peri­od and just before me was Jim Pitts.  I think he moved and became direc­tor of anoth­er muse­um.  There were also some indi­vid­u­als who served dou­ble duty, work­ing part-time at Tourism and part-time here: Holly Goeing, John Hearn, Matt Graham, and a lady whose last name was Cole.

WCNV – You were a teacher before tak­ing this job weren’t you?

SS – Right.  I taught in Jenkins, Kentucky and when I moved here I taught read­ing and social stud­ies at Conkwright, then at GRCHS teach­ing his­to­ry and social stud­ies, and final­ly at UK where I worked at super­vi­sion of stu­dent teachers.

WCNV – How much area do you have in the building?

SS – 10,000 square feet. (The response was imme­di­ate as she had the answer right on the tip of her tongue.)

WCNV – Tell us about your staff.

SS – Julie Morgan is the only paid staff but there are a lot of vol­un­teers who are always ready and will­ing to do what­ev­er needs to be done, includ­ing Rosemary Campbell, Boo Baldwin, Jack and Cindy Jones, Mary Jo Bond, and Mickey and Brenda Royse.

WCNV – What do you con­sid­er your most impor­tant display?

SS – (lengthy pause)  I’d say the Agricultural room because it relates so much to the his­to­ry and char­ac­ter of Clark County and we’ve got­ten many great con­tri­bu­tions that make up that room.  It was also one of the ear­li­est rooms developed.

WCNV – Does the muse­um have any per­ma­nent endowments?

SS – No.  Would you like to make one? (chuck­ling)

WCNV – Whose idea was the Second Thursday pro­grams and how long have they been going on?

SS – It was my idea and we start­ed them short­ly after I became direc­tor so I’d say they’ve been going on for about 13 years.

WCNV – Who com­pris­es the muse­um board at the present time?

SS – Our total board has 13 mem­bers but the exec­u­tive board is Gardner Wagers, President; Lindell Blackwell, Vice-President; Mary Davis, Secretary; Boo Baldwin, Treasurer, Brenda Royse, and Kitty Strode.

WCNV – What is your most recent acquisition?

SS – A muz­zle-loaded long rifle built by D. Bryan in 1810.  It was donat­ed by Saundra Caudill and it hasn’t been placed on dis­play yet.

WCNV – What are future plans for the museum?

SS – We don’t have any­thing large in the works, just sev­er­al main­te­nance issues that need attend­ing this year.  We’re going to rebuild the steps in the back that lead up to the Kendall House, some gut­ter work, and some replace­ment of sid­ing on the dormer over the ele­va­tor.  Of course in a build­ing that’s 128 years old, you always have main­te­nance issues.

WCNV – You re-did the patio last year, didn’t you?

 SS – Right.  The old patio was paved with some pret­ty rough stone which posed some prob­lems for peo­ple who are phys­i­cal­ly chal­lenged, so we took all that up and had a con­crete patio put in.

WCNV – What about the Kendall House?  How is that being used?

SS – The build­ing is being used for social func­tions.  We don’t rent it, but request dona­tions.  As you know, it was the for­mer nurse’s res­i­dence for the clin­ic that was here before the muse­um.  And we recent­ly rebuilt the steps to the side entrance and built a hand­i­cap acces­si­ble ramp to the back door.

WCNV – Tell us about mem­ber­ships in the museum.

SS – Our reg­u­lar mem­ber­ships are: Individual: $20/year, Senior, $15/year, and Family, $50/year.  We also have Heritage Memberships which include: Friend, $100; Sustaining, $250; Sponsor, $500; Patron, $1,000; Benefactor, $2,500; Cornerstone, $5,000.  There are some perks that come with Heritage mem­ber­ship and at the Patron lev­el and above is a life­time mem­ber­ship.  And, of course, all dona­tions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

WCNV – Any last thoughts?

SS – I’m just so glad that the com­mu­ni­ty has so bought into the muse­um.  The gifts, dona­tions, and work by so many peo­ple are far beyond any­thing that, I think, any­one ever expect­ed.  The num­ber of donat­ed items is real­ly amazing.

WCNV – Thanks, Sandy.  I know that the muse­um is a real trea­sure for every­one here and we all appre­ci­ate your lead­er­ship in mak­ing it what it is today.


About the museum

Location: 217 South Main Street
Open: Mon. — Sat. noon to 4 p.m.
Adults $5, Children 6 to 18 $2; Seniors $2
Phone: (8598) 745‑1358
Website: www.bgheritage.com

Sandy Stults, director of the Bluegrass Heritage Museum in Winchester.
Sandy Stults, direc­tor of the Bluegrass Heritage Museum in Winchester.
The Bluegrass Heritage Museum occupies a historic Romanesque Revival building on South Main Street that once housed the Guerrant Clinic.
The Bluegrass Heritage Museum occu­pies a his­toric Romanesque Revival build­ing on South Main Street that once housed the Guerrant Clinic.

  • Chuck Witt

    Chuck is a retired archi­tect, a for­mer news­pa­per colum­nist, and a life­long res­i­dent of Winchester.