ESTELL MANOR - The moment many people in the county have been waiting for finally arrived last week with the official opening of the Atlantic County Veterans Museum, located in the historic Daniel Estell house.
“I’m so happy it is finally open. I love history, museums and war history,” said Al Beuttl. He said he often had driven by the museum to see if it had opened yet and he was beginning to wonder if it ever would, but he is thankful that it is. For Beuttl, the Veterans Museum is an important player in preserving history.
“We are losing so much history,” he said.
It has taken years for the artifacts at the museum to be collected and donated. In fact, the Atlantic County Veterans Museum committee held numerous collection events throughout the county to gather all the various items, some of which date back to the Revolutionary War.
Yet, much to the delight of museum staff and volunteers, artifacts are still being donated. Not only is the museum still receiving artifacts, it has more items that are not even being displayed at the moment.
“We have received thousands of individual artifacts, in fact we are still cataloging,” said Cindy Mason-Purdie of the Atlantic County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, who retired on Saturday. In order to do justice to all of the artifacts, Mason-Purdie says there are plans to rotate displays with different artifacts.
“It’s a massive task; we have been working on it for four years,” said Earl Cain, a volunteer at the museum and a member of the Sons of the American Revolution.
The historical significance of the artifacts is enhanced by the historic house they are stored and displayed in.
“The building has been owned by the county for a long time,” said Mason-Purdie. The structure was built around 1832 and was owned by Daniel Estell, who owned the local glass works and was a well-known businessman. Both Mason-Purdie and Cain think one of the primary benefits of the house are the deep-set windows. The window depth, almost 30 inches, act as natural display cases.
“It’s humbling,” said Christopher Roeder, an Army veteran who served in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Roeder decided to donate his uniform and other items to the museum so they would not be sitting in a closet. His donations have their own corner in the museum and are located on the second floor.
Numerous people were involved in the creation of the museum, including county employees and residents, historians and veterans. The Atlantic County Veterans Museum Committee also was formed in order to help bring the museum to fruition.
The museum is looking for volunteers who can help for at least three hours at a time. For adults who are interested in volunteering, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Atlantic County Veterans Museum is located at 189 State Hwy Rt. 50 in Estell Manor, right next to the Atlantic County Park and Veterans Cemetery. The museum will be open Thursday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum can be reached at (609) 909-5859.