Restored drum returns to Strasburg museum for May opening

John Adamson, vice president of the Strasburg Museum, stands beside a drum that the Strasburg Museum and the Strasburg Heritage Association funded to restore and display inside the museum. The museum will open for the 2016 season on Sunday. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG – When visitors stop into the Strasburg Museum once it opens on Sunday, they may notice an artifact that’s had a recent makeover.

John Adamson, vice president of the museum, returned a bass drum from the Mt. Olive Cornet Band to the walls after taking it down for restoration a few years ago. He said the drum was a donation to the museum when it opened in 1970, alongside a mallet and an American flag with 45 stars. He said the museum doesn’t have information about who donated the drum.

The decorated calfskin drumhead states that members organized the band on Aug. 15, 1902, but Adamson said there’s not a lot of recorded information about the band. The museum has also placed a placard describing the history of cornet bands and this particular drum. On it, a newspaper photo and caption shows 15 members of the Mt. Olive Cornet Band and lists their names.

The drum had suffered a tear on the decorated drumhead before it came to the museum, and Adamson said another tear on the opposite drumhead was stitched up long ago for continued use.

Both the Strasburg Museum and the Strasburg Heritage Association contributed $3,000 to fix the torn drumhead. Adamson said a private contractor who’s restored items for the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley and even the White House completed the work – after a bit of time on a wait list.

Adamson said the drum and its accompanying artifacts were on display at the museum from 1970 on, but were not taken out for temperature-controlled storage in the winter months. The flag deteriorated to the point that it wasn’t suitable for display, and he said the temperature fluctuation in the building over the years was “part of the problem.”

He said a new HVAC system to prevent such weather damage in the old 19th century building is beyond the scope of the museum’s budget.

Now that it’s restored, the drum will join a few other artifacts that are kept elsewhere in the winter to help preserve them for future generations.

“This is an example of the love that Strasburg has for its community in the museum,” Adamson said.

Other featured exhibits and events at the museum this year include a display of Hilary White’s art throughout the month of May, as well as antique tractor and long rifle displays and demonstrations by Massanutten Antique Tractor & Gasoline Engine Club on May 28.

Admission on Mothers Day on May 8, May 21 and May 28 will be free. Museum president Gloria Stickley also said that a film of John Schreiner’s model train system in the museum’s restored railroad car is in the works and will be available at the museum store once copyrights are secured.


• Museum hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day.
• Cost: $3 for adults, $1 for teens, 50 cents for children.
• Information, visit http://www.strasburgmuseum.org/ or call 540-465-3175.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com