There’s an old saying that “to have a museum, a town must have some history.” Gardendale has both of these. The Kermit E. Dooley Museum, located at 170 Bell Street in Gardendale, is open each Saturday from 10 am to 12 pm to share this story with visitors.
Gardendale Historical Society
2006 saw the beginning of the Gardendale Historical Society not only to document the town’s history but also to preserve the history of the community for its citizens. The Society meets every 3rd Saturday at the Martha Moore LIbrary in Gardendale. In October of 2020, the Society voted to change the name of the museum to honor Kermit E. Dooley for his extended service to the city of Gardendale.
Kermit E. Dooley
Kermit is often affectionately known as the “History Man.” He has gathered items, memorabilia, antiques, documents, and other relics to preserve the archives. He worked diligently toward discovering a new location for the current museum when the previous location became too small, getting display cases donated, and has given numerous interviews detailing the importance of the city of Gardendale. The museum is honored to share his name.
Early settlers discovered the beauty of this area in 1812, but it wasn’t until the first homestead was erected in 1825 by Otis Dyer that a city started to form. A dozen families quickly claimed land, and Coal mines opened in 1870. The Grist Mill built by William Parker helped move the community forward.
Gardendale was originally called Jugtown, after a jug and churn factory in the area. A local school teacher, Hettie Thompson Cargo started a campaign to change the name to Gardendale; it became official in 1906.
Kermit E. Dooley Museum
Kermit E Dooley is currently not only the honored namesake of the museum, but he is also the President. He still works diligently to gather and preserve Gardendale’s rich history. The museum is home to many items, odd clay jugs for which the original name of Jugtown was earned, an advertising sign from Mickwee General Store, mining equipment, Civil War relics, books, documents, and photographs.
We at the NJP recommend stopping by, looking, and learning.
Donations are always welcomed, whether monetary or notable items to be housed.
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