Heritage House Museum of Montgomery County
Located in Mount Ida (Montgomery County), the Heritage House Museum of Montgomery County (HHMMC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, officially incorporated in 1998. The museum is the culmination of R. R. (Dick) Whittington’s dream of a repository of artifacts, archives, and photographs to honor the history and heritage of Montgomery County.
The Whittingtons were one of the families who settled this west-central Arkansas county, and members of each generation documented and recorded bits of local history. Dick Whittington perpetuated the family’s keen interest in the past and, in the early 1970s, began recording interviews with locals regarding people, events, customs, and conditions of the past. A core group of interested county residents began researching and developing the organization of the museum. Whittington’s nephews Bill and Richard Ray donated the land for the museum and were actively involved in construction as well as its later operation. Not only did Whittington pay for the construction of the building, but he also left an endowment to help support the museum’s operation. The building was dedicated in 2000.
HHMMC has grown through the years by developing a quality quartz crystal and mineral exhibit, adding a rural general store, altering and improving the general exhibits in the main building, constructing an exhibit barn patterned after a Norman structure, relocating a 1940s Eleanor-style outhouse from Pine Ridge (Montgomery County), and adding an 1880s log home moved to museum property from the Alamo (Montgomery County) community. A resource center is available to the public for genealogy research. Since the establishment of the museum, the “home place” environs around the log home have been expanded, a permanent exhibit honoring the county’s timber industry history was constructed, and a tribute to Lake Ouachita has been developed. Ongoing promotions include the Memorial Brick Pathway and the annual commemorative Christmas ornament featuring varied county edifices or activities. The museum celebrates the annual Sorghum Festival (begun in 2010) the second weekend in October, with sorghum being made on site, complete with a mule-powered mill, as well as “old-timey” demonstrations and activities.
The Heritage House Museum is governed by a twelve-member board of directors who represent various communities throughout the county. It has a director and a collections coordinator on staff but depends upon its roster of volunteers in its daily operation. Each year, the board of directors selects an individual who contributed significantly to the museum as recipient of the Richard Rudell Whittington Award, which is presented at the Volunteer Recognition Dinner.
The museum asks families with county heritage to share items that reflect its past. Donations of artifacts, archives, and photographs have ensured interesting and varied exhibits. All accessioned items must have Montgomery County history and be dated from the 1800s to 1975. There is no admission charge to the museum.
For additional information:
Heritage House Museum of Montgomery County. https://mountidamuseum.org (accessed April 8, 2022).
“Museum a Vital Component in Preserving County’s History.” Montgomery County, Arkansas, 2011 Visitor and Relocation Guide, pp. 7, 10.
Emilie J. Kinney
Mount Ida, Arkansas
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