Smithfield Herald

Oakview residents visit museum


Oakview residents glimpsed into the history of a community when they visited the Coats Estate Museum and Bell Tower in late April.

Located in McGee’s Crossroads community in western Johnston County, the museum is the former home of Robert Floyd Coats and his wife Addie Coats. Robert Coats was nicknamed “Tink” as a young boy because of his love of bells.

The Coats estate is now home to the museum and a bell tower. Created by Robert Coats, the bell tower includes 30 bells of various sizes, including train bells, fire bells and church bells. The largest bell measures 44 inches in diameter and weighs more than one-half ton. Over the years, residents have taken up the tradition of ringing the bells at noon on July 4 and at sunset on New Year’s Eve.

Inside the museum, Oakview residents sifted through the Coatses’ treasures, including collections of textiles, books and farm equipment. “Their desire was to preserve for future generations the tools, household activities and other relics to help people recapture the flavor of what life in the country meant,” Oakview activities director Maria Iadonisi said of the Coats family.

Resident Karyl Arnold enjoyed seeing clothing from the past, while Jim Eldridge, a resident who has worked on tobacco farms and in warehouses, was surprised to discover antique tobacco equipment.