On the corner of Spring and Oak streets sits an often overlooked house, a house which single handedly wrote Miami University into the history books. Literally.
Since opening to the public in 1960, William H. McGuffey’s home, known as the McGuffey Museum, has been visited by intellectuals and students. This house saw the creation of the McGuffey Eclectic Readers, which reshaped education in 1836.
Although the museum became a National Historic Landmark in 1966, it is not immune to university cutbacks.
It officially closed to the public Dec. 1, the first time in almost 45 years, according to Audree Riddle, a museum studies major and employee at the museum.
In recent months, the museum has changed hands from the Office of the Provost to the Miami University Art Museum. Due to the closing, all staff positions at the museum were eliminated. However, Miami promised student employees they would not lose their jobs or have any hours cut. The students were given the opportunity to continue working with the home, but now as employees at the art museum during the spring semester.
Riddle said she was very upset about the closing although she was glad she kept her job at a different location.
“As McGuffey was welcomed at its new home, so were the students that worked at the museum,” Riddle said. “I got to share the history and stories with people, and now without it open to the public, people are unable to obtain that experience.”
Riddle said she provided tour for about 200 to 250 people a month. People came from near and far to visit the home, according to Riddle.
“(It’s) a reason why for the past 200 years Miami has been such an influential university,” Riddle said.
While the museum is unable to be toured by the public, the university has allowed the house to remain on life support.
According to Art Museum Director, Robert Wicks, tours at McGuffey museum will be given through appointment only.
“You can schedule an appointment through the Art Museum,” Wicks said. “Appointments for the McGuffey Museum should be made at least two weeks in advance.”
Wicks said he hoped the museum would be brought back to its original state, although he did not know when this could happen.
Even though his division received the former McGuffey Museum tour guides, concocting a team to conduct a tour is a stressful process, according to Wicks.
Wicks and Riddle both said they were thankful for the community volunteers that had always been there to catch McGuffey Museum whenever it seemed about to fall.
“The community is the backbone of McGuffey’s existence, and is a large contributing factor of what keeps the transition alive,” Riddle said.
For a tour of the McGuffey Museum, contact the art museum at (513) 529-2232.