World War II on display at historic Craik-Patton House

F. BRIAN FERGUSON | Saturday Gazette-Mail photos
Paul Zuros stands among some of the World War II era exhibits that are now on display at the Craik-Patton House, in Charleston.
This handmade quilt was made with U.S. military patches from World War II.
This was one GI’s diary from the war.

It shouldn’t seem strange to see World War II memorabilia on display at Charleston’s 1830s-era Craik-Patton House.

The historic house on the banks of the Kanawha River is named for James Craik, who built the home in 1834, and George S. Patton, a colonel in the Confederate army, who lived there throughout the Civil War.

“The Patton family who lived there are the grandparents of Gen. George S. Patton III, of World War II,” said Paul Zuros, executive director of the Craik-Patton House and museum. “I like to make the tie-in whenever possible.”

Through the end of August, artifacts and memorabilia from the home front and fighting front will be on display in the Craik-Patton House conference room, in an exhibit titled “WWII, At Home and Over There.” The exhibit features period military uniforms and equipment and photos and artifacts from the war at home in West Virginia.

Most of the objects on display are from Zuros’ personal collection.

“Both of my grandfathers were in World War II,” said Zuros, 27.

One died when Zuros was young, and the other, a military policeman in Europe, suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, so Zuros never got to learn details of their experiences. Zuros became interested in collecting World War II artifacts in part to learn more about their history.

Artifacts in the exhibit from Zuros’ collection include Army and Navy uniforms, a period nurse’s uniform, wartime posters and a massive hand-held mine detector set that weighs almost as much as the soldier wielding it.

Zuros also borrowed artifacts from the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center, including a 1945 film about war production at Weirton Steel. Weirton Steel made 155mm howitzer shells during the war.

An unfinished howitzer shell is among the artifacts on display, along with a tattered Army-Navy “E” flag. The flags, emblazoned with a large letter E, were awarded to war plants for excellence, and one went to Weirton Steel, Zuros said.

Soldiers’ personal items, enemy souvenirs brought back from overseas and books and medals also are on display.

The exhibit will be available July 20-Aug. 6 and Aug. 10-28. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call 304-925-5341.

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com, 304-348-1215 or follow @rusty_marks on Twitter.

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