Bobby Williams, left, visits with Lonesome Pine School and Heritage Center volunteer and local historian Garnett Gilliam. The center is preparing for its 2015 opening this week.
The Lonesome Pine School and Heritage Center has made some new additions to its collection as it prepares to open its doors for spring and summer.
The center’s 2015 opening is this week, with volunteers welcoming visitors from 1-5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, April 2-4. The center is on Clinton Avenue across from the June Tolliver Playhouse.
“We have literally hundreds of books and between 55-60,000 pictures,” local historian and center volunteer Garnett Gilliam said. “We have probably the most local books that’s been printed in this area. And admission is free.”
And that collection, housed for the last nine years in the small, renovated “Sears prefab” dwelling, continues to grow. Among the new items visitors can browse through are:
• A notebook containing more than 500 4x6 photographs from the making of Adriana Trigiani’s “Big Stone Gap” movie. Photos include the sets constructed around town for the fall 2013 filming, as well as actors.
• About 40 books from the collection of Jim Gilley, a 1927 Big Stone Gap school graduate who passed away last year at age 103. Gilley was a fixture at school reunions. “He used to drive in here every year from Lynchburg to the reunion,” volunteer Jim Kilgore said.
The Gilley books include “Early Settlers and Pioneers of Lee County,” the “Bicentennial History of Lee County,” the two-volume “History of Wise County,” “World War II Wise County Veterans,” “Annals of Southwest Virginia,” and a first edition of Charles Johnson’s Wise County history. Other than the Johnson volume, “most of these are reprints,” Gilliam said. “But anybody doing any genealogy or local history, especially of Wise and Lee counties, they need to come here.”
• The center also has put together a DVD of Powell Valley High’s 1982 football state championship win over Madison County. The DVD lasts a little over 25 minutes and includes all of the game action itself. And Gilliam said, copies will be made for sale to people who want to make donations to the center; a price hasn’t been set yet. The center also has two audiotapes of the game.
• The center also has information about cemeteries in western Wise County and in Lee County, a boon to genealogists. “. . . Glencoe, Oak View, Powell Valley Memorial Gardens, American Legion and Riverview at East Stone — those are your main cemeteries,” Gilliam said. “We’ve got all of them where they’ve listed the people buried in each one of them. They take in from the very beginning of the cemeteries up to 8 to 10 years ago.” The center has four books on Lee County cemeteries, Gilliam said.
• Bobby Williams, a 1947 Big Stone graduate, has donated a book listing area Southern Railway employees, a collection of Southwest Virginia train pictures, and train itinerary sheets.
The center has added several photo albums, including one donated by Sandy Cox that contains photos of musicals done at Powell Valley High School. The album joins the hundreds of school annuals and photo books in the center’s collection. “A person can come here, and if they want to, regress back to the time they were in school,” Gilliam said. He has also collected more than 400 photos from Wise, Lee, Scott and Dickenson counties over the last year.
“If a person is interested in going back in history looking for pictures . . . genealogy, there’s nothing like it around here,” Gilliam said. “And it’s all hands-on, you can come in here and pick up anything.”