Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County Inc. volunteer Ray Muse points to a spot where the ceiling has begun to collapse in the 1869 county jail. The historical society is seeking donations for what they feel will have to be a major renovation of the jail, which houses the Clayton County History Center.
JONESBORO Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County Inc. officials are afraid the county’s history will end up buried under a pile of rubble if donors don’t step forward to save it.
Everything from Civil War memorabilia, to early county court records, to a deputy’s badge from Sheriff Victor Hill’s first term in office are on display at the Clayton County History Center on King Street in Jonesboro. It’s housed in the county’s 1869 jail and the building is in bad shape, said Historical Jonesboro volunteer Ray Muse.
The tipping point came Thursday, when the ceiling in one of the exhibit rooms began to collapse on crews who were trying to move a display case, said Muse. Water damage and squirrel-eaten ceiling boards were revealed in the process. Officials are concerned the original heartwood cross beams may be compromised.
“This is major,” said Muse. “It’s going to take probably a structural engineer to get those beams back up because they’re rotting.”
Muse said Historical Jonesboro would likely have to close the museum permanently if the cost, which has yet to be determined, is in the millions of dollars range.
“Even if it’s only in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range, that could be deadly for us,” said Muse.
In the same room where the ceiling has collapsed, the floor board has detached from its baseboard. The room houses exhibits on Native American settlements and Jonesboro’s ties to the Civil War. The ceiling sags in two other rooms, including one dedicated to the history of the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office. The floor in the storage room above it is also rotting away. The roof also needs to be replaced.
“The major concern right now is, ‘What’s next?’,” said Muse.
It will take an expert in historical renovations and restorations to rebuild the internal structure because they would know how to properly handle the task.
“We need someone with a little more experience than patching ceilings in a home because of the fact that this goes into rotting wood in a building this old,” said Muse.