JEFFERSON — Pulled by a tall, white horse and steered by a bonneted driver, an elegant black carriage clattered down College Street as a busy shopkeeper went about answering questions about the bolts of fabric on her shelves.
Interested patrons flowed in and out of the doors of the Pendergrass Store, leaving behind a interesting blend of old and new.
If it weren’t for the clothes of the visitors, the scene could have easily been from the 1800s. Instead, it was Saturday’s grand reopening of the Crawford W. Long Museum in Jefferson.
Although the museum chronicles the career of Crawford W. Long, who made medical history in 1842 by using ether to perform the first pain-free surgery, its staff has worked in other historical exhibits to help visitors get a full understanding of what life was like during that time period.
After being closed for more than a year for renovations, Saturday was the first day that the general public was able to take in the changes.
"The last time that we were here was 20 years ago," said Dr. John Sheats, who traveled from New Jersey with his wife, Peggy Sheats.
Sheats has more than a passing interest in the museum. One of the structures in the museum compound, the Pendergrass Store, was built by his grandfather.
"I’m very pleased with what they’ve done," said Sheats.
Although the reopening of the museum was postponed several times, Saturday’s event was a perfect fit for one Jefferson resident.
"I was born at Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta, on this day 47 years ago," said Cynthia Wilson-Czerwonka, during Saturday’s festivities, who also has a twin sister, Sandra Wilson-Fancher.
"We have lived in Jefferson since 2002 but we never came to the museum before (Saturday). I was having trouble figuring out what to do for my birthday, and then we heard about this and I said, ‘This is what I’m going to be doing.’"
During the extensive renovation, the museum got a total makeover, including new lighting, refreshed displays and an expanded exhibit space.
"I think what they’ve done is absolutely excellent," said Evelyn Bauer, who was visiting from Massachusetts.
"I received a degree in museum studies from Harvard (University) and this is even better than the Warren Anatomical Museum (on Harvard’s campus)."