Since its purchase by the Port Republic Preservationists for use as a museum, the Frank Kemper Home has undergone major renovation, and a master interpretive plan has been developed.
In 1999, the Society completed the design and installation of six interpretive wayside signs in the village, accompanied by a professionally published self-guided walking tour brochure. Using SVBF funds, in part, signs were installed along the one-mile loop of the village at historically important features or sites:
Established in 1793 for the Methodist Episcopal Church, Riverside Cemetery is one of two historic graveyards in the village. After decades of neglect, the Society cleared it and fenced it in. The Society purchases and cares for sheep that are used as lawnmowers each summer. Gravestones date to 1837.. (A complete listing of gravestones is on file in the Museum.)
In spring of 2004, the Society began a major project necessitated by time and an autumn storm: the landscape repair and rehabilitation of the graveyard. The project, not yet completed is estimated to cost $12,020, to which the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation has pledged $5900.
The Society was blessed to have several drafts of a manuscript by George May, as well as his research notes and material. This local historian, born 1869, meticulously gathered research for several decades, using first source material as well as other publications. May gleaned daybooks, deeds, photographs, certificates, diaries, letters, bills, receipts, and importantly, conducted interviews of older residents, including some who experienced the Civil War.
One barely legible draft of his manuscript has been used for a number of years by writers and historians, and by the Society to interpret history in the Museum and to respond to numerous inquiries for information. The Society compiled as many as four drafts of each chapter, using hand-written revisions by the author, checking against his copious notes, into a cohesive form. The Society added forty photos and graphics from the Museum collection, lists of censuses, a bibliography and complete index that make it a valuable research tool, and published it as Port Republic: The History of a Shenandoah River Town.
This story of Port Republic is chronicled with detailed descriptions of events, appropriate lists, and importantly, with personal anecdotes from the history of Port Republic as a frontier town, busy river port, and commercial center. This is the story of Port Republic's craftsmen, tradesmen, industrialists, farmers, and professionals. It is also the saga of family survival through war, floods, and economic hardship from the town's colonial beginnings to the 1930's.
These are but a few of the personal stories in this history of Port Republic as a frontier town, busy river port, and commercial center. This is the story of Port Republic’s craftsmen, tradesmen, industrialists, farmers, and professionals. It is also the saga of family survival through war, floods, and economic hardship from the town’s colonial beginnings to the 1930’s.
(The book may be purchased in the Museum Shop, or ordered by mail.)
Port Republic Cookbook.
In response to public demand, we undertook the 20th anniversary printing of our cookbook, Port Republic Receipts. Culinary Arts along the Shenandoah River. The recipes are interspersed with historical vignettes and photographs.
Port Republic Milling Company Apron
As a fund-raising project, we produced an apron for sale using an authentic flour sack from a Port Republic mill as the template.