New Talcott Museum Honors John Henry


Talcott, West Virginia, is the home place of folklore hero John Henry. A project is underway to restore one of the town’s oldest buildings to serve as an information hub about the legend.

Dillion’s Superette, a convenience store, was housed in what was a 1890s general store before it closed its doors two years ago. The owners were very active in the community and donated the old building to the John Henry Historical Society for a promise:  to restore the building back to its 20th century look.

And that’s what William Jones is doing. He, along with members of the John Henry Historical Society, have been working on refurbishing the building. This involves exposing the original tin ceiling, finishing the wood floors, and removing siding to show the original.

The building now houses the John Henry museum: a place that tells the story of the legend and helps visitors interpret the tale.

Jones says that the museum and annual summer festival are significant for a variety of reasons.

“It’s good for the local community, it’s good for the economy,” Jones says. “And it is important because John Henry is the most famous African American laborer in history […] it brings everyone together for the history and culture of West Virginia.”

The new museum is part of the development of a 26-acre park dedicated to Henry. The park will house future John Henry Days, a cultural event that attracts thousands to the tiny town.

One of the features of the museum is an archive with interviews from the 1920s and 30s that were part of a study conducted by the University of Kentucky.

Jones says that while they have already spent a few thousand to renovate the building, it will take between $15-17,000 to finish.

But no need to fear… the museum will be open for John Henry Days July 11-14.