The Bermans and the Museum, 1950-1999

Where we left the Bermans… “The family settled in Farley’s hometown of Anniston, and Berman took over the family business, Berman’s Department Store, at the death of his father.”

In 1953, after living in Anniston for three years, Germaine became an American citizen. The following year, the Bermans built their famed “Wonder Home” at 1234 Champaign Avenue, the first fully electric home in Anniston and dubbed the “most electrified in the United States” by The Anniston Star. Farley and Germaine poured themselves into the community, becoming patrons of the Knox Fine Arts Festival, part of Lenlock Community Development and Merchants Association, and board members for the Anniston Humane Society/Animal Shelter. In the early 1960s, The Anniston Star noted the Bermans’ collection as “500 pieces garnered in a period of 30 years” and billed it “world-famous.” Farley began hosting programs at events and giving tours of his home to show off their eclectic collection.

In 1970, Farley Berman retired from the U.S. Army Reserve as a Colonel. Berman served on the Board of Directors for the Commercial National Bank of Anniston. He received many awards, including Jacksonville State University’s “Friends of the University” award and the Army’s Certificate of Appreciation for Outstanding Civil Service – the highest civilian honor. In 1971, Farley joined the Regar Board, Anniston Museum of Natural History’s first museum board. He worked alongside John B. Lagarde to create the Anniston Museum of Natural History as it is seen today and he remained on the board until the museum’s opening in 1978. In 1974, Farley was voted Man of the Year by The Anniston Star.

During the 1980s, the Bermans participated in many displays at the Anniston Museum of Natural History, including “Animals in Bronze.” While the Bermans enjoyed this, they wished for a museum of their own. In 1992, he created the Farley L Berman Museum Foundation with Dr. Gaston McGinnis, Fred Couch, and Judge W.C. Bibb, among others, as original board members. On August 10, 1993, Germaine died at the age of 84.

The Berman Museum broke ground on February 4, 1995. On April 13, 1996, the Berman Museum opened its doors to the public. Farley regularly visited the museum and often lectured about pieces from the collection, especially spy weapons.

On July 16, 1999, Farley Berman died at age 88, leaving a museum and a legacy. A total of over 6000 items of his collection now call the Berman Museum home.

Learn more about the Berman Museum in our upcoming articles highlighting the museum’s twenty-fifth anniversary!