History of the Museum
The Military Memorial Museum is located in one of Crossville’s oldest structures, built in 1885. It served as the second county courthouse until 1905 when a fire ravaged the interior. After renovation in the 1930s, the building became an elementary-high school and library. During the 1940s it was a location for wrestling matches, a USO venue and housed various government offices until 2002 when the museum was established. The building is constructed using Crab Orchard quarried stone and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Buildings and is included as part of the Tennessee Civil War Trails.
The museum was conceived by local historians and military veterans who began the collection with 110 items. The museum now displays over 5,000 interesting, unique and historically significant artifacts as a result of generous donations from Cumberland County residents and visitors from all states including foreign countries. Visitors are given a glimpse of Cumberland County during the Civil War as they enter the museum. They are introduced to local World War I Medal of Honor recipients from Tennessee, Sergeant Alvin C. York, and Crossville’s own Sergeant Milo Lemert. The World War II section is quite extensive with a special section devoted to Camp Crossville, the German POW Camp. On display is the memoir of Gerhard Hennes, Behind Barbed Wire, recounting his days as a prisoner of war at Camp Crossville.
The museum is organized by conflicts in the history of the United States beginning with the Civil War. All subsequent wars are represented – Spanish American War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Visitors can explore the museum on their own or engage with one of the friendly and informative tour guides. The museum is informative, interesting and educational. Begun by a dedicated group of local individuals, it will continue to serve the community in the future.