Columbiana’s hidden secret

Published 2:37 pm Monday, August 4, 2014


The Karl C. Harrison Museum of George Washington, nestled inconspicuously next to the Columbiana Public Library, seems an unlikely destination for international travelers, but the museum has played host to visitors from as far away as Japan, France and England.

The museum houses an impressive collection of over 1,000 artifacts belonging to the nation’s first president and his descendants. The collection began in the early 1980s with a small, silver teapot, according to the museum’s curator Donald Relyea.

“A lady brought a teapot (to Columbiana) to be appraised. The appraiser knew that the teapot had belonged to a member of Martha Washington’s family. When he asked the lady about it, she said she was the sixth generation granddaughter of Martha Washington, and she also told him she had a whole houseful of artifacts and memorabilia.”

Karl Harrison, a Columbiana banker, philanthropist and “student of Washington,” purchased the teapot and many more artifacts from the woman, Charlotte Smith-Weaver, and the basis for the museum was born.

Read more about Columbiana’s Karl C. Harrison Museum of George Washington in the August issue of Shelby Living. Find your copy here.