Over the decades, a succession of six hatchery superintendents and their families lived in the house, which in its day was looked to as one the grandest homes in Unicoi County.
But by the early 1980s, the house had fallen into disrepair and became so costly to heat the government had scheduled it for demolition when the local community, led by the county Chamber of Commerce, stepped in.
To preserve the house and its history as well as that of the other best-known institutions in the county, a deal was struck that has since allowed community organizations to maintain the house as a museum dedicated to the county’s heritage.
Opened to the public in 1982, the museum features 10 main exhibit rooms furnished by community organizations, including the original superintendent’s office maintained by National Fish Hatchery, pottery rooms furnished by the Blue Ridge Pottery Club and the Cash Pottery Co. and a large front parlor decorated with antique furniture and period pieces provided by the Erwin Art League.
Second-floor treasures include a wooden walkway down an early 1900s Main Street with apothecary, doctor, dentist and barber shops, a general mercantile, a post office and a bank all displayed behind shop windows.
The Clinchfield Railroad, which was headquartered in Erwin from 1926-1983, was prominently represented with a room in the museum sponsored by Clinchfield Railroad Historical Society, until 2011 when the community rallied again to expand the preservation of its rich railroad history.
A replica of the Fishery Depot located near the hatchery at the turn of the last century was built adjacent to the Heritage Museum for the display of a large collection of Clinchfield artifacts provided and maintained by the historical society.
The sister museums are open April through October and both can be toured for a single admission price. For more information or to schedule a tour, call Curator Martha Erwin at 743-9449.
Email Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.