Thorsby museum finds new home

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, November 13, 2012

By Tracia Bussey

The Thorsby Museum had a “grand” grand opening in its new location on Oct. 13 during the Thorsby Swedish Fest. The museum was originally located in a back room at Helen Jenkins Chapel. Even though it was a small space, it contained a lot of information about Thorsby’s early days.

Since the creation of the Thorsby Historical Preservation Committee in 2007, however, there have been new additions to the museum, such as the donation of the original organ that was used for church services in the Swedish Lutheran Church that once stood on Jones Street. Needless to say, the little museum has been growing!

New home: The Thorsby Museum is now located in the old Thorsby Savings Bank building at the corner of Montgomery Avenue and Jones Street.

Earlier this year, when the Helen Jenkins Chapel was discovered to have suffered severe damage from termites, it was unsure what would happen to the museum during the time the chapel would need to undergo extensive repairs. Historical Committee member Julia Wood graciously offered the use of her building on the corner of Montgomery Avenue and Jones Street, free of rent, to house the museum for a permanent home. This seemed a fitting place, since this particular building is one of the few remaining historical structures in town.

The building was built in 1909 by Iver S. Gerald, a Norwegian settler in Thorsby. Mr. Gerald was the owner of the Thorsby Savings Bank, which had been operating in a building across the railroad. The new bank building was completed just shortly before Mr. Gerald passed away from illness. This building was the only surviving structure on Main Street during a fire in 1915, due to the fact it was constructed of block instead of wood and continued serving the town as a bank until moving to the building that now serves as Town Hall.

The building is a museum piece in itself, with the original vault and beautiful molded tin ceilings still intact. Most of the front room was completely renovated for the opening day of the museum with plans to restore the entire building, as much as possible, back to its original glory. The Historical Preservation Committee is very pleased with what’s been accomplished so far and expects to continue the progress.

Future openings of the museum for the public to visit will be announced. The Thorsby Historical Preservation Committee welcomes anyone who is interested in Thorsby’s history to join their efforts in its preservation. Call Tracia Bussey at 205-217-0978 or email

Fred Hunter Is honored guest in Thorsby

This year’s Thorsby Swedish Fest was honored to have Fred Hunter of Fox 6 Absolutely Alabama as the parade’s Grand Marshall.

This was not Hunter’s first visit to Thorsby. One year ago, Hunter filmed his well-known Absolutely Alabama in Thorsby, highlighting the Scandinavian heritage as the feature of the documentary. He will add photos taken at the 2012 Swedish Fest to that film documentary for future airing.

–Tracia Bussey is a community columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. She can be reached at