About the Gate House
His broken spoon
The soldier's head plate
Becoming a Museum
What We Have
The hotel that washed away with the spoon
The Gate House didn't start life as a museum. Nor did it serve long as a controlled entry point to Springfield.
Instead it became a home to William Shipley, chief purchasing agent for the hospital, who lived here with his wife and two daughters from 1913 until his death in 1954.
After the Shipleys left, the house fell into disrepair, and when Route 32 cut the town off from the hospital, it became further neglected, and eventually, the town bought it from the state for $100.
A group of volunteers put in countless hours, gathering artifacts, analyzing paint, battling termites, and turning the old house into a town museum.
We have a spoon. Ah, you might ask, "Who cares about a spoon?" Well, maybe the man who owned it. But then who cares about him? Well, he owned a hotel that James Sykes built. In 1868, a flood washed away the hotel and the rest of the town with it.
Somehow the spoon found its way back to us, along with a picture of the man. His name is John Grimes.
The point is we have spoons and hats, campaign buttons, old cuff links, and ancient waffle irons. We have pictures and furniture and an old pump organ.
We have a chair that Betsy Patterson may have sat in while speaking with Napoleon's brother, Jerome Bonaparte, who she married.
We have a tintype picture of the hotel that washed away.
We even have a medal plate that lived 70 years in an old soldier's skull and made his brain hurt on cold days. He was an infantryman left for dead in a German forest, but he lived, and we have his story, his war medals, and a couple mementos given to him by a British nurse, along with his first kiss.
We don't have the kiss, but we do have a lot of stories.