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    Schiele MuseumSchiele Museum Gastonia, North Carolina
    The Schiele Museum in Gastonia, North Carolina is a very unique museum since it was started by a novice naturalist and botanist, without a real education in the field, or any related to it, so all the details, cataloging and collecting, was done on his own, or with the help of his wonderful wife and companion, Lily Hobbs Schiele. Bud Schiele was 67 years old when he started the Gaston County Museum of Natural History, and was the culmination of a lifelong study, cataloging and preserving nature, a self-styled naturalist and botanist that continued to work in a profession that he loved very much and could continue as long as he wanted. Schiele was born in Philadelphia, in 1893, and discovered he had a great interest in nature at a young age, and while still a young man began working as an apprentice curator at the Philadelphia Commercial Museum, and dream of the day when he could created his own sanctuary to showcase his outstanding collections. He was a second lieutenant in the army for a while, and then declined a job offer to become the only wildlife official in the state of Alaska, deciding instead to become involved in the Boy Scouts of America, taking a position as Scout Executive, and married Lily Hobbs. The couple arrived in Gaston County in 1924, and Bud would stay with the Piedmont Scout Council until 1958, all the while collecting minerals, rocks and wildlife that he would then exhibit at the scout office in Gastonia or at his home. Bud had to leave the Boy Scouts because of mandatory retirement, so he applied to become a ranger-naturalist for the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and before he left, he spoke to the community leaders and told them that if they would build a structure to house his collections, he will donate his entire collection of animals and minerals and give his services for free. When the couple returned, they found that the plans were already underway for the new museum, which was dedicated in 1961 and in 1965, the museum's name was changed to the Schiele Museum of Natural History to honor its founder and benefactor. Bud would continue to be involved with the museum until he passed on in 1974, leaving a legacy of love that is still encouraging and helping folks to be more aware of and to appreciate the many natural wonders we are fortunate to have.

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    Gaston County MuseumGaston County Museum Gastonia, North Carolina
    The Gaston County Art and History Museum in Gastonia, North Carolina was born from a cultural project of the Gaston County Bicentennial Commission in 1975, and in 1976, would become a legal entity, with an independent board of trustees; and is now a place of discovery, learning and inspiration, with outstanding displays and excellent programs for families, adults and schools, stimulating the imaginations and enhancing the understanding of history and art. It opened on July 4th, 1976, on the second floor of the Dallas courthouse, but in the early part of 1977, the city's original turn of the century Carolina and Northwestern Railroad depot that was going to be destroyed, would be given to the museum and then moved to a vacant lot adjacent to the Dallas library. It would become the museum's learning station, and then it would become the Exhibit design shop and is now the Anne Biggers Furr Learning Station. It wasn't too long after the museum received the depot, the railroad company would then donate a caboose that added more exhibit space, and it would be relocated next to the depot. As the space became more limited at the courthouse, the trustees started to look for an alternative in 1977 to 1978. The Hoffman Hotel on West Main Street was constructed in 1852, by Daniel Hoffman, right across the street from the courthouse, and housed 44 rooms, known as the biggest and best of the numerous hotels located in the city, where the pioneers, lawyers, judges, farmers and businessmen would stay while attending court. By the end of 1979, a ceremony would be held on the steps of the old hotel to celebrate and dedicate the new museum home. In 1980, Daniel J. Stowe, a Belmont textile executive discovered a group of exceptionally restored horse-drawn vehicles that had belonged to a local collector, so he bought them and donated them to the museum, thus creating its first permanent collection. The Stowe Carriage House would be opened in 1991 to house the twelve sleighs and carriages.

April 26, 2011