After the demise of the silent-movie theater, the building was converted to a filling station in the 1930s.
Soon after that, it became a zero locker; in the days before refrigerators and freezers were common household appliances, customers would rent freezer space for their meats and other perishables. The zero locker, because it was centrally located and across from the village post office, did a brisk business until technology made it obsolete.
The building remained unused for many years, until once again fate stepped in and gave it a new lease--literally--on life. During the 1970s, the heirs of the Rockey family donated the building to the village; the building was to be used exclusively as a small-town museum.
Before the generous donation by the Rockey heirs, "We had [the exhibits] in a back room... in Morrison's Market." Morrison, who ran a local grocery for 25 years, recalls that he was "tickled" when the museum had finally found a permanent home.
The timing of the real-estate donation was fortuitous, because it coincided with a feverish effort to save and restore the Ashville railroad station, which was being abandoned by the Norfolk & Western. Composed entirely of volunteers, a Save Our Station committee not only converted a run-down and neglected building into a showpiece, but also sparked a renewed civic pride and an interest in preserving and celebrating the town's history.
The renovation of the railroad station also coincided with a college project Bob Hines, an Ashville native, was working on: "Bob Hines," Morrison recalls, "who was going to the University of Cincinnati, did a survey some 25 years ago [about 1975] and thought, well, we'd like to have a museum in Ashville." The college project eventually became a thesis, and Hines became heavily involved in the birth of the museum and in the preservation of local history.
Fueled almost entirely by donations and contributions from local residents, and manned by volunteers, the Ashville Museum has grown in size and scope and has garnered national fame and accolades.
Beaming, Morrison modestly says only that, "I think we're all real proud of the way things have gone in Ashville, especially in the last few years."
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