Local Military History Museum to reopen in Fairborn on Jan. 1

A uniform worn by Charity Adams, the first African American woman to be an officer in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, is on display at the Miami Valley Military History Museum. LISA POWELL / STAFF

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A uniform worn by Charity Adams, the first African American woman to be an officer in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, is on display at the Miami Valley Military History Museum. LISA POWELL / STAFF

FAIRBORN — The Miami Valley Military History Museum will open its doors at its new location on New Year’s Day 2022.

The museum, located at 4 E. Main St. in Fairborn, houses well over 100,000 military artifacts, memorabilia, and books donated by Dayton-area veterans and families. Their displays primarily commemorate veterans who lived or are still living in the Miami Valley. Those who donate artifacts, including flight suits, flags, or other military items have the option of displaying their name next to their items.

“The beauty of that is it really provides ownership to the museum,” said trustee and former Fairborn mayor Dan Kirkpatrick.

The soft opening is Jan. 1, with a grand opening complete with military re-enactors planned for Memorial Day 2022. Regular hours will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on all patriotic holidays.

The museum’s new building will allow the curators to display nearly twice the number of artifacts they were previously capable of at their location on the Dayton VA campus, as museum curators aim to tell the story of the area’s military connection.

“It’s all about educating people about veterans,” Kirkpatrick said. “The percentage of people who are veterans is getting smaller and smaller, so one of our big goals is to educate the community about what veterans do.”

The Fairborn Area Historical Society is also in the process of developing a museum at the former St. Mark’s Church at 100 E. Main St. Curators say they plan to partner with together to spur economic development.

“Small-town museums are great for communities,” Kirkpatrick said. “It brings people in who eat in your restaurants, stay in your hotels, shop in your businesses. It gives them a reason to come to a community.”

Museum public relations director Cathy Beers-Conrad said that attendance numbers for the museum at the Dayton VA were around 5,000 per year, with their patriotic holiday open houses hosting up to 250 people in 2019. At their new location, Beers-Conrad expects that number will skyrocket.

“We get a lot of grandfathers, who are able to bring their grandchildren and say ‘that’s what I used,’ And the kids go ‘wow, that’s what grandma or grandpa used to do.’ That’s one of the coolest parts to me,” said Beers-Conrad.

Though they are moving off of the VA campus, the museum will continue to support the Dayton VA, including sending Christmas gifts to hospice and dialysis patients.

“Nothing that we do on campus will ever stop,” Beers-Conrad said.

Individuals interested in volunteering at the museum should contact (937) 409-4529.

Masks are required on opening day regardless of vaccination status.

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