Iron Hill Mu­seum set to re­open

His­toric school­house ready again for vis­i­tors

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

Vol­un­teers were hard at work this week putting the fin­ish­ing touches on a restora­tion of the his­toric Iron Hill Mu­seum.

The public will get its first glimpse in­side the re­fur­bished one-room school­house dur­ing an event on Satur­day, and the mu­seum will open for reg­u­lar hours in May.

“There isn’t an inch of this build­ing that hasn’t been touched,” Robin Broomall, pres­i­dent of the board of di­rec­tors, said Tues­day as she and mu­seum di­rec­tor Mau­reen Zieber worked through a snow­storm to get the mu­seum ready for this week­end.

Iron Hill School #112C was built in 1923 as a school for African-Amer­i­can chil­dren, one of more than 80 such schools built by busi­ness­man and phi­lan­thropist Pierre Sa­muel du Pont. It closed in 1965 as part of the court-or­dered de­seg­re­ga­tion.

The mu­seum opened there three years later and for nearly 50 years in­vited school groups, sum­mer camps, Scout troops and the gen­eral public to view its col­lec­tion of min­er­als, ar­row­heads, taxi­der­mied an­i­mals and other ar­ti­facts.

Two years ago, the Delaware Academy of Sci­ence, which man­ages the mu­seum, opened the larger, more mod­ern Iron Hill Sci­ence Cen­ter nearby and moved many of the ex­hibits there.

Since then, the or­ga­ni­za­tion has been restor­ing the old build­ing to look more like it did when it was a school­house. Sev­eral of the orig­i­nal desks and chairs have been re­fur­bished.

“The charm of the orig­i­nal mu­seum was that it is old and was chocked full of neat things to see, touch, and learn about, from fos­sils, rocks, min­er­als, antlers, stuffed birds and an­i­mals,” Broomall said. “But even charm needs a thor­ough clean­ing and up­dat­ing once in a while.”

While the sci­ence cen­ter fo­cuses on nat­u­ral his­tory, the school­house has been re­pur­posed to show the hu­man side of his­tory on Iron Hill.

The three main ar­eas of fo­cus in­clude the Na­tive Amer­i­can in­flu­ence in the re­gion; how Ir­ish and Welsh min­ers were at­tracted to the area by the ge­ol­ogy of Iron Hill; and the one-room school­house and African Amer­i­can cul­ture of Iron Hill.

Iron Hill was home to the Lenni Le­nape tribe, which found large de­posits of feldspar jasper there that were valu­able in mak­ing tools and other im­ple­ments nec­es­sary for sur­vival.

Euro­pean set­tlers, pri­mar­ily Welsh and Ir­ish, were also at­tracted to Iron Hill be­cause of its ge­ol­ogy. In­side the hill is a mass of ig­neous rock called gab­bro, which is made up of iron mag­ne­sium. They mined the iron ore for nearly 200 years. The open pits are still vis­i­ble along the wooded trails be­hind the school­house.

“We want the com­mu­nity to know more about the re­gion and why Iron Hill got its name,” Broomall said. “The whole area has a tremen­dous his­tory, and most res­i­dents in the sur­round­ing de­vel­op­ments don’t have a clue about it.”

The Iron Hill Mu­seum is lo­cated at 1355 Old Bal­ti­more Pike.

At 1 p.m. Satur­day, it will host an event cel­e­brat­ing the Ir­ish com­mu­nity that once lived in the Iron Hill area. The cost is $5, or $3 for mem­bers of the Delaware Academy of Sci­ence. Space is lim­ited; call 302368-5703 to regis­ter.

Af­ter Satur­day, the newly re­stored mu­seum will be open by ap­point­ment and also dur­ing Iron Hill’s an­nual Ar­chae­ol­ogy & Her­itage Fes­ti­val on May 6. Start­ing in May, the mu­seum will be open ev­ery Satur­day af­ter­noon.

NE­WARK POST BY JOSH SHAN­NON

The his­toric Iron Hill Mu­seum is pre­par­ing to re­open af­ter a restora­tion project.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Mu­seum di­rec­tor Mau­reen Zieber and board pres­i­dent Robin Broomall pose in­side the Iron Hill Mu­seum.

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