A Museum Built on Love- of Family, Community, & Learning
Many visitors remember the museum’s opening in 1990, but few know its history. In 1985, long-time Richmond resident Wilber Cooper was diagnosed with leukemia and given 7 years to live. Wilber soon became withdrawn. His daughter, Carolyn, and her husband, Fred, sought a way to help rekindle his joy in life. Thus was born the idea of a museum, which enabled Wilber to share his love for Richmond and its history. Fred and Carolyn purchased the historic CHTJ Southard House, which had fallen into disrepair, and began extensive restorations. The museum started modestly with Fred’s antique tool collection in the Carriage House, but soon grew to fill both the Carriage and Victorian Houses.
Wilber’s role as the museum’s resident historian seemed to give him a new lease on life, for instead of 7 years, he lived another 21 years. After Wilber’s passing at age 90, the museum was closed while the building underwent phase II of restoration. We re-opened in 2013, with a fresh outlook, new exhibits and community programs.
Our mission is to provide a valuable resource for the community and increase accessibility, understanding, and enjoyment of the area’s rich history and culture, while using the past to better understand the present and inform our future.
The Southard House is a small, independent nonprofit 501(c) museum, run by volunteers who share a love of Richmond and her history. We receive no government funding. Donations are greatly appreciated.