The Mountain Grove Central Arts Council is preparing the 2014 annual calendar for publication. The theme for the calendar is “Mountain Grove Sports Through The Years,” dating back to the early nineteen hundreds. The subject matter may or may not include school sanctioned sports, as many sports activities have taken place outside of school. The board is asking the public for help in providing information and/or photographs about various sports activities that have taken place. For instance, Mountain Grove once had a semi-pro baseball team, the Mountain Grove Grays, that played similar teams throughout the state. Both baseball and softball has been played at Green’s Park. Any photographs or information would be helpful in documenting this landmark that brought so much enjoyment to the community. Other areas being considered are the Saddle Club, it’s early leaders and formation, bowling teams, golf, and the establishment of Mayberry Field for youngsters. These histories would also be an important source to archives at the Arts and History Center as well as add to the new calendar.
During open house over Alumni Weekend in July, over 50 people visited the Center. Since that time, the Center has been opened upon special request and several individuals have inquired as to the possibility of a regularly set time for visiting. At the Monday meeting, this possibility was discussed and it was decided to open the Center on the first Thursday of each month from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The first open date will be Thursday, Oct.3. This will be give the public the opportunity to see what has been accomplished by the small group of Arts Council members with help from calendar sales, donations and grants from the Foundation of the Ozarks.
One of the exhibits at the Center that drew a lot of interest was of the old depot and Frisco Railroad memorabilia. Several photographs were collected and a history of the railroad and depot was made available. Some of the information was provided by Jim Stillwell whose father, Afton Stillwell, was the contract freight hauler for Frisco. Through email correspondence he recalled many of his memories of the depot and the trains that came through. Following the July display, he decided to donate items in his possession that relate to the depot and Frisco. One of these items is a bench that sat in the depot which had been discarded and Afton saved. Since Jim lives in Clinton and has some health issues he was not able to deliver the bench. Dr. David Barbe, who travels a great deal in his work, arranged to meet Jim and pick up the bench in his pickup truck. At that time Jim also presented a box of Frisco memorabilia that had been saved and treasured which will be on display at the Center with the stipulation that if the museum should ever close, the items are to be returned to him. The bench will have an attached plaque in memory of Afton Stillwell. President of the Arts Council, Debbie Barbe, expressed appreciation for the generous gift by stating that “Even though the depot was demolished several years ago, it remains a vivid memory in the minds of many Mountain Grove people. It was a linchpin in the community as people traveled to and from Mountain Grove.” For the display, Ron Hilt, who succeeded Afton Stillwell, also loaned the gum machine that was attached to the wall of the depot and brass keys to all the doors. He previously donated paving bricks that were taken up when the depot was torn down.
In addition to the Stillwell collection, several other items have been donated that should be mentioned. Kathryn Coffman brought three high school yearbooks from the twenties. Included in one of the annuals were two intact 1894 and 1895 Mountain Prospect newspapers and several snippets of others. The Mountain Prospect was one of Mountain Grove’s earliest newspapers. Vonna Douglass Hilt donated some old high school annuals which adds to the collection that the Council is attempting to complete. Old annuals and Panther News newspapers are much appreciated as donated items. Of course, the Kentucky rifle donated by the Dean family, really received a great deal of attention.
For those wishing to donate items, they can be brought to the Center on the days it is open or call Mary Ann Frazee at (417)926-3716. The Council meets on the third Monday of each month except for December at 5:00 P.M.
Submitted by Mary Ann Frazee