Last week we looked at Henry C. Groseclose, the man. This week we will learn about the museum dedicated to him and the FFA.
The Groseclose FFA Museum is located in Ceres, Virginia. This small community had an elementary and high school until 1962 at which time the high school was moved to the town of Bland. In 1991 the elementary school was closed and was relocated to Bland. Nine years later (2000) the Ceres Alumni Association was established by former students of the elementary and high school. The Association decided to take the old agriculture building and turn it into a museum honoring native son Henry Groseclose and the FFA. Henry was born and reared in the Ceres community.
The photo below is the museum. It is located on the grounds of the former Ceres School which is now a community center. The front part of the structure is the classroom while the extension to the back is the school shop. Behind it, but barely visible is the school-community cannery which is now operated by the county. There is another building to the back right that houses antique farm machinery.
The museum is located in the village of Ceres which is about 20 miles west of Bland, Virginia. Bland is located on Interstate 77 north of Wytheville, Virginia. If you are traveling north on I-77 and miss the exit you will soon be in West Virginia. What I am trying to say is that in order to visit the museum, you really have to have that as a destination. It is off the beaten path.
The Museum does not have regular hours. You have to call 276-682-4380 or 276-682-4587 to make an appointment. The people who run the museum are very friendly and accommodating. A brochure about the museum is attached.
I want to thank Marvin Hoskey, a retired teacher educator from Missouri for sharing his photographs with us. Most of the photos in this Footnote came from him with the remainder coming from my camera.
The photo below is in the former classroom and shows some of the exhibits.
The photo below is a display case showing the aprons FFA officers wore at one time. The emblems on the apron are pretty much faded out. I tried to get a photo of one in the sunlight but that didn’t really help. Why were there FFA officer aprons? One must remember that Groseclose was a Mason and this influenced the FFA. I believe Mason wear aprons in their ceremonies.
This real stuffed owl was in the classroom over the door to the advisor’s office. There is an embroidered Masonic emblem hanging on the wall in the office but it might be hard to see.
The shop contains a variety of old agricultural tools, books, and equipment. Notice the stained glass window at the right rear.
The stained glass window came from a local church, but it was not the one the Groseclose attended. Interesting. The entire community is proud of Henry Groseclose.
A sign inside the shop letting you know where you are.
I applaud the Ceres Alumni Association for establishing this museum. It recognizes one of the founding fathers of the FFA and helps document the history of the FFA. There is much more to see (and read) than I have indicated here. If you are ever in the area, it might be worth a detour to visit the museum. The Groseclose historical marker, his home, and his grave are all within a mile of the museum.
It is sometimes a challenge to reconstruct history after the fact. I would encourage each agriculture teacher, 4-H leader, state supervisor, and teacher educator to start now documenting the history of the FFA, agricultural education program or 4-H in your community and state. The longer you wait, the harder it will be. If you have some students doing independent study projects, this would be a good learning experience for them.
Fortunately, there are some great tools to help us. I highly recommend the https://www.hathitrust.org/ web site. This is an organization of academic institutions that have digitized millions of old books, brochures, magazines, and other documents. The search capabilities are outstanding. I use it a lot in constructing the Friday Footnotes. It sure beats the old card catalog (if you are old enough to remember them).