Pantego Academy history is academic

Published 6:03 pm Monday, September 3, 2012

John Ratcliff stands outside the Pantego Academy Historial Museum where he volunteers every weekend. Ratcliff attended Pantego Academy as a child. (WDN Photo/Mona Moore)

PANTEGO – John Ratcliff’s love of history has served the Pantego community well. The retired teacher volunteers at the Pantego Academy Historical Museum every weekend and has become something of an expert on local history.
“I probably know more about this little community than anybody else because I was a nosy little child,” Ratcliff said.
Ratcliff went to Pantego Academy from first through 12th grade and came back and taught at the school for five years. History was one of his favorite subjects to teach.
His father was the school’s youngest high school graduate, finishing at the age of 11 years and 9 months.
He gives tours of the 138-year-old school building and its grounds.
“I have a story for every piece in here. A tour from me can last 15 minutes or two hours,” Ratcliff said. “I’ve been here a long time.”
The museum includes schoolroom displays from Ratcliff’s era as well as from the 1800’s period. But the collection has become more than a trip down memory lane for locals.
Walking into the two-story structure is like stepping into history. The ever-changing displays include a general store, a parlor room, corners full of children’s toys and photographs. The museum accepts artifacts from all over the state.
“We realized five years ago, our past in this area is disappearing. People are throwing it all away,” Ratcliff said. “We hope to save it.”
The museum works with local second-hand shops and antique stores to save what they can. But, there is no budget to acquire items. If items are not donated or loaned to the museum, volunteers like Ratcliff buy and donate them.
Ratcliff serves as vice president of the Pantego Academy Historical Museum Association. He is officially on duty every Sunday, but you can find him at the museum on Sundays, too.
“It’s very enjoyable meeting the people. You never know who will come by,” Ratcliff said.
The museum has less than a dozen volunteers and Ratcliff said he would like to see more people from younger generations take interest. The museum could use help in all areas, from building displays to cataloging artifacts to fundraising.
“We always need volunteers… for anything,” Ratcliff said.
Located at 46 Academy Street, the Pantego Academy Museum is open Saturdays and Sundays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment. To learn more about volunteer opportunities, email Ratcliff at, go to or call 252-943-2200.