» By CONOR SCRUTON – cscruton@my.apsu.edu

Since the semester started, The All State has sent me to various hallmarks of Clarksville culture I might not have visited otherwise, despite living in the city. When I stopped by the Customs House Museum last week, I had the familiar feeling of wondering why I hadn’t gone earlier.

The Customs House is located at 200 South Second St. and includes one of the most striking pieces of old architecture in downtown Clarksville. The original building was a post office in 1898, and includes all manner of turrets and arches that make it truly stand out against the downtown landscape.

The original Customs House building is actually closed for renovations until March 30, but there is still plenty to do in the newer branch of the museum. The art gallery is a good place to start. It has a lot of exceptional artwork from oil paintings and watercolors to sculpture and woodworking and now regularly features the work of local artists.

On a more practical level, the Customs House is a great way to really look into Clarksville history. The “Challenges and Champions Sports Gallery” highlights the athletic achievements of Montgomery County natives, including legendary runner Wilma Rudolph and racecar driver Jeff Purvis. The room also features some really cool artifacts and photos from Clarksville schools’ earliest organized sports teams.

For anyone interested in history, the lower level of the Customs House is featuring a Civil War exhibit through March. While it’s not usually my favorite subject, the exhibit actually has a cool way of incorporating modern design and real artifacts to present the Civil War in a new light. Also downstairs is a model train setup that, honestly, is pretty impressive in size and detail even for a professional. The trains run from 1-4 p.m. every Sunday afternoon around a track that mirrors Clarksville in certain spots.

While I’m admittedly kind of a museum nerd, the Customs House is still worth visiting for any Clarksville resident. It’s the second-largest general museum in Tennessee, and I’m willing to bet it will be even cooler once the original building reopens with a lot of their main exhibits.

Still, perusing the Customs House’s offerings was a relaxing way to spend an afternoon and — if you’ll excuse my corniness — learn a little bit. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, so feel free to stop by if you’re lacking something to do, or for any reason at all. TAS