Changing of the Guard
for retiring Carr at Historical Society
credited with reviving
the organization in his 24 years
Lela Jane Bradshaw
(December 2012) At the end of the year the
Jefferson County Historical Society will see the retirement of the man
who did so much to shape the organization residents enjoy today. After
serving as executive director for 25-plus years, Joe Carr explains his
decision to explore new adventures saying, I will soon be 63,
and there are many other things I want to do.
Carr has a large
list of travels planned
for his retirement.
Over the coming winter, Carr will be a volunteer ranger
at the White Sands National Park in New Mexico and has already arranged
to return west to volunteer at Bandelier National Park next fall. He
also has plans to enjoy the wildlife on the Queen Charlotte Islands
in Canada and to study totem pole making with the Haida Indians.
For me, the world is still an oyster, waiting to be opened,
For those familiar with Carrs work at the Historical Society it
should come as no surprise that his retirement will prove to be a busy
one. When he accepted the position, he faced a number of challenges.
The organization had less than 100 members and the societys artifacts
were stored in a small carriage house behind the library. Carr recalls
that the collections were a moldering, rotting jumble of all kinds
of things stuffed into trunks, cupboards and drawers. The society owned
the Madison Railroad Station, and it was a tumble down wreck. Worse
yet, the society owed $50,000 on the building.
Under Carrs tenure, he grew JCHS membership to its current tally
of more than 400 across the United States. He oversaw the restoration
of the Railroad Station, the payoff of its debts, and the establishment
of an endowment. For all of his accomplishments, he reflects, I
am most proud of building the County Heritage Center from scratch planning,
raising the money, building it. There was only a vacant lot here when
Today, Carr can honestly say that The society is the Smithsonian
of Jefferson County, and he points out that the small museum has
been recognized for exceptional service by National Institute of Museum
and Library Services with a number of grants.
Diana Hand, office manager at the Historical Society, has worked with
Carr for 16 years and cites his many accomplishments among the reasons
he will be missed. That pretty much speaks for itself, what hes
accomplished, she says. As executive director, she says that Carr,
never takes anything for granted. We do have a good
friendship and that makes a nice working relationship, she reflects.
On Nov. 2, John Nyberg was introduced as the new director at the JCHS
Annual Dinner. Carr expresses confidence in his successor saying, John
will bring fresh energy, ideas and plans to the job.
Nyberg previously spent 17 years in Madison, where his
wife, Kim, served as the founding director of the Madison Main Street
Program. The couple has been living in Hendersonville, Tenn., where
Nyberg has been serving as executive director at Historic Rock Castle,
an historic site he describes as devoted to sharing the story
of Gen. Daniel Smith, who played a very important role in Tennessees
Nyberg explains the appeal of his new position saying, Jefferson
County is so rich with history, and what is so wonderful is that the
people of Madison and Jefferson County put value in their history and
are proud of it and willing to share it. There are so many stories that
have been and can be shared with Jefferson County residents as well
as the visitors to our county. JCHS has been in history sharing
business for many years.
During past leadership of the board of directors, staff and volunteers
they have created a first-rate facility and follows excellent museum
and archive practices. On a personal level, he said the couple
is happy to be back in Madison, and he says of Kim, I know she
is excited about being in the town she loves, as well as sharing Madison
with other communities through her consulting business. It will be fun!
Nyberg is dedicated to the idea that museums should play an active
role in the community and provide cultural gathering place as well as
place for hands on experience for the visitor. He
said he is excited by the existing programs JCHS already has in place
to provide in and out of school educational programs and he looks forward
to reaching area youth by continuing and expanding these programs.
I plan to involve the local high schools and colleges with programs
and internship opportunities, Nyberg said. I want to create
a workshop space within the existing building so that the organization
can offer workshops year around to all ages.
During his time at Rock Castle, Nyberg found success with workshops
that allowed visitors exposure to the traditional crafts of the
area. He is encouraged by the number of cultural events based
in Madison, such as the RiverRoots folk festival and the Madison Chautauqua
Festival of Art. And he looks forward to exploring ways that the society
can partner with these festivals by offering programs and workshops
either as a lead up to these events or as a way to build on the enthusiasm
they generate during the off season.
Nyberg anticipates a busy winter with plans to meet and reconnect
with local organizations to work on partnering with programs and activities
meet with the board of directors for activities for the year.
Nyberg is dedicated to Madison as more than just a professional historian.
He reflects on his return to the town saying, I love that my family
can grow up and live around these special people and places; it will
define in some ways who they will be, this community is filled with
extended family who share their experiences of the same love towards
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