The Georgia Salzburger Society planned to have a museum from the beginning of the organization.
When Jerusalem Lutheran Church built its first educational building in 1956, one room was designated for the Salzburger Society to use as a museum. The GSS provided funds for the room and a vault to be built in the room.
It soon became apparent that one room and even the use of the small auditorium adjoining the room would not be large enough to care for, store and display the wonderful collection of items donated.
The members of the GSS began plans for a separate museum to be built on land provided by Jerusalem Lutheran Church. It would have been many years until fulfillment of the dream if it had not been for John Lebey’s generosity in giving the society a beautiful memorial building.
The museum building is situated, as nearly as possible, on the site of the Old Orphan House in the now lost town of New Ebenezer. The building has the same dimensions as the orphanage but was constructed with brick instead of hewn timbers.
Built and designed by John C. Lebey, FAIA, of Savannah. Lebey presented the building in memory of his wife, Louise Gnann Lebey, and in honor of her mother, Pearl Rahn Gnann – Author of Georgia Salzburgers and Allied Families. Ground breaking took place on Labor Day in 1970. The building was dedicated on Labor Day in 1971.
Over the years, new exhibits have been built inside the museum and additional items placed on display. There is a gift shop offering books, gifts and other items during operating hours.
Initially, a custodian lived in an upstairs apartment. The first custodian was Charlie Moore Seckinger.
After New Ebenezer Retreat Center was built nearby, they no longer had a custodian on site. That apartment is now the Loest Research Library for genealogical research for the Georgia Salzburger Society’s life and annual members (about 2,000 ). It is open for the public on Saturdays from 3 to 5 pm and by appointment with Barbara Rahn Scott, Librarian, by telephone 912-660-1786.
The GSS operates the museum with the Board of Directors as the governing board. Diligent volunteers with a strong work ethic like their ancestors provide countless hours annually to operate and maintain the museum. The current curator of the museum is Patsy Shearouse Zeigler and the Assistant is John Robert Peavy. Current museum hours are 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and by appointment through the Facebook page or telephone 912-754-0001.
This was written by Susan Exley from Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos or historical information to share contact her at 912-754-6681 or email firstname.lastname@example.org