New House of Flags Museum opens

Published 7:50 am Monday, November 14, 2011

House of Flags Chair Robert Williamson welcomes guests to the grand opening ceremony of the museum’s new location as Jeane Helms-Scofield and Glenn Scofield look on. (photo by Carol Boissier)

Patriotism now lives inside the walls of a building that once housed the Columbus Town Hall and Columbus Fire Department.

Just behind the Polk County Courthouse the House of Flags opened its doors to a new museum Friday, Nov. 11.

HOF Chair Robert Williamson credited the museum’s founder, George Scofield, for the day taking place, although, sadly, Scofield passed away three years ago this month.

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“When I met George Scofield eight or nine years ago, he got me more excited about flags than I’ve ever been excited about anything,” Williamson told a crowd of more than 200 people gathered outside the museum’s new location Friday. “If it wasn’t for the vision of George, this museum wouldn’t be possible.”

Scofield’s widow, Jeane Helms-Scofield, attended the ceremony and with the help of Shirley Axtell, widow of veteran George Axtell, cut the ribbon on the new building.

“[George] was a tough guy, but he would have been in tears over this day,” Helms-Scofield said. “I think had it been me I would have given up, but he wouldn’t let any roadblocks get in his way of making this happen.”

Scofield was a World War II veteran – entering the Merchant Marines when he was 19 and spending several years in service. In 2000, Scofield attended a July 4 parade and noticed that few if any attendees took notice when the American flag passed by. They didn’t quiet their conversations, they didn’t take off their hats and they certainly didn’t show respect in the way Scofield felt they should, his son Glenn Scofield said.

Glenn Scofield and his wife, Teresa, traveled from Colorado to take part in the ceremony. Glenn agreed that his father would have been overwhelmed by the event.

“This day would have meant a tremendous amount to him,” Glenn Scofield said. “He put his life on the line for his country and truly respected others who did the same.”

But Glenn Scofield said his father was concerned citizens didn’t respect the flag in the manner they should. He said after 9/11 his father conjured up the idea of a larger, more accessible museum. His hope was to bring patriotism to the people.

“When the ceremony started I immediately thought, “Here comes the flag – I need to stand up and take my hat off,” Glenn Scofield said. “That type of respect is what he [George Scofield] was about. His idea behind this was to unify people in that way again and teach youth especially about the importance of patriotism.”

The board members of the House of Flags Museum share Scofield’s love of country and the symbolic tribute flags play in regards to the nation’s history. All of them spent years alongside Scofield working to make the museum a reality in Green Creek. Then they all stayed the course to ensure Scofield’s dream of a larger, more prominently located museum came to fruition.

“After so much work it’s tremendous the outpouring of support,” said board member Frank Ortiz. “Just imagine, for a person to walk up and see this – it’s America, it’s how America was all formed.”

The House of Flags museum will be open for its first full day Saturday, Nov. 12 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Its hours from now on will be Saturdays 10 a.m. – 4p.m., Tuesdays 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and Thursday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. These hours mimic those of the Polk County Historical Museum two blocks away so that visitors might hit both in one trip, Williamson said.

“It’s a blessing to see this thing happen,” Williamson said. “There have been days and weeks and months and years of hard work poured into this, but today’s the day we finally get to see it all come together.”