Watt Center exhibits focusing on 1963

EVEN THOUGH gasoline cost 30 cents a gallon in 1963-64, many people probably didn’t buy it to attend the predecessor of the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival as they do today to enjoy the annual celebration.

The festival, however, as well as other events related to those years, are being showcased Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at the Watt Center for History and the Arts.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the pumpkin festival, which began as the Barnesville Fall Fair before growing into the pumpkin extravaganza which annually attracts crowds during the last full weekend in September.

Mary Sidwell, secretary of the Watt Center, said the exhibits at the center will highlight Barnesville as it was back in the days of 1963.

Barnesville Hospital added a new wing that year, and the Albert S. George Youth Center at Barnesville’s Memorial Park was completed and opened to the public. The golden anniversary exhibits include a variety of other 1963-related events.

“Each of the groups (participating in Sunday’s celebration) has worked to assemble displays that highlight 50 years of enriching the community,” said Sidwell.

She added that the public is welcome to wander through the historic building, once home to Watt Car & Wheel Co., and now the Watt Center, just off Watt Avenue in Barnesville. Admission is free and donations are welcome.

The building itself is something to behold. Oak is used throughout the structure with some of the rich wood enhancing the walls. Even the closets in the building are paneled with the beautiful wood.

And that’s not all. There are the building’s decorative tin ceilings. It was the office building for the Watt Car & Wheel Co., which was known by various names over the years since its start in 1881. The former office building now is home to the Watt Center for History and the Arts.

Sunday’s displays aren’t the only way in which the Watt Center is focusing on 1963. Its 2013 calendar is “A Look Back 50 Years: 1963 Barnesville,” which points out 1963 advances such as the beginning of work on the Slope Creek Reservoir, which now serves several communities in three counties.

Sidwell explained that the Watt Center, a nonprofit organization, “was formed to provide a local history museum focused on industrial, agricultural, and retail aspects of the town and to encourage appreciation of the arts. Watt Center volunteers meet on the second Wednesday of each month, and visitors are welcome.”

Those wishing more information may call Beverly Hannahs, Watt Center president, 740-425-1537, or Sidwell at 740-926-1547.

Pokas can be reached at bettypokas@yahoo.com.