ST. GEORGE — The cupola atop the pioneer museum in downtown St. George recently received a face-lift as part of restoration work on the 81-year-old building.
Officially known as the McQuarrie Memorial Museum, the building is packed with artifacts from Washington County’s pioneer past and is maintained by the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.
Work on the cupola took place around a month ago, said Sue Blazzard, assistant director of the museum. The work was paid for through a grant, she said, as the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers group is a nonprofit.
“While work was in progress many people stopped to see what was happening and watched the cupola get a new facelift,” a press release from the Washington County chapter of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers reads. “Cupolas are on quite a few of the pioneer buildings in St. George and each one is unique.”
According to ThisOldHouse.com, cupolas, which can resemble miniature or squat church steeples in some cases, have traditionally been used to bring light into a building’s attic area, as well as provide a measure of ventilation. When used on barns, the cupola was “meant to allow a continuous flow of air into the hayloft, helping to dry the hay.”
A more detailed look at cupolas and their function can be found on ThoughtCo.com.
Restoration work on the pioneer museum’s cupola was done by Image Enterprises LLC. Matthew Dockstader, company owner, said he wasn’t aware of the museum’s existence or the cupola prior to bidding on the project.
“Now my family wants to come back and visit again because we found our family ancestors’ photos and want to learn more,” Dockstader said in the press release.
Framed photos of early Mormon pioneers cover the walls of the museum. It is also full of displays showcasing the items settlers used in their daily lives, exhibiting everything from the clothing they wore to the musical instruments they played at social gatherings and dances. There’s hardly a space that isn’t covered.
The pioneer museum was dedicated June 17, 1938, and was the result of a campaign by the Washington County-based Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.
Before it was built, there was no central place to keep collected pioneer artifacts for safekeeping and display. That changed when the Daughters reached out to Hortense McQuarrie Odlum in New York City. She was the granddaughter of an early St. George mayor and was also rather well-to-do financially.
Odlum ended up traveling to St. George and contributing $17,500 to the project, ultimately spearheading the original building’s construction.
The McQuarrie Memorial Museum is located at 145 N. 100 East in St. George, just north of the St. George Pioneer Courthouse on St. George Boulevard. Admission is free, and it’s open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Private tours can be arranged by calling the museum at 435-628-7274.
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