Warren County Historical Museum plans move forward | News
The Board of Trustees of the Warren County Historical Museum, Inc. is moving forward with plans to convert the former Warren County Jail to 201 E. Macon St., Warrenton, after county commissioners approved a lease-purchase agreement earlier this month.
On December 6, the Warren County Board of Commissioners approved a memorial agreement for a lease-purchase agreement between Warren County and the Warren County Historical Museum Board of Trustees, Inc. covering a total five years. WCHM will pay a total of $ 5, or $ 1 per year over a five-year period. At the end of the five-year period, the county will transfer ownership of the prison to WCHM.
The Warren County Historical Museum, Inc. was recently formed as a not-for-profit entity with a board of directors that includes Dr. Deloris Jerman, chairman; Dr Cosmos George, vice-president; Reverend Mary Somerville, Reverend Calvin Jones, Daymond Milam, Sandra Lovely and Dr Mark Wethington.
Plans presented to the County Commissioners Council in the fall outline the organization’s goal as follows: “to preserve the old prison building as a historic monument and use it as a base for construction, the displaying and presenting an authentic and insightful understanding of Warren County history. It will showcase the history of Warren County through working with local, state and other entities to preserve our history, educate the public, and use technology to expand access that will bring our rich and sometimes difficult history to life. “
Jerman said the history of the old prison makes it the logical site for the museum, which the board hopes will serve as a way to bring the local community together.
“We think this is a great place to showcase the whole story of Warren County, to tell the story of confidence, but to be insightful, respectful of all people,” she said. “We want to build a bridge (for the community) to come together and work together to move forward.”
The museum project is divided into phases over a period of five years. Jerman said the nonprofit met its goals for the first year, which included plans to acquire the old prison property and assess the condition of the structure.
Years two to five will focus on repairing and restoring the physical structure of the prison with the goal of completing the restoration by the end of year five. Plans call for the museum to open in the sixth year.
George said an initial cost estimate for the museum project was over $ 1.2 million. However, he added that as the cost of building materials continues to fluctuate, it is difficult to get an accurate and up-to-date estimate.
The non-profit organization faces challenges that will impact the catering budget. Plans presented to county commissioners indicate that lead and asbestos must be decontaminated. In addition, the structure falls into disrepair.
The prison was originally built in the 1860s, but the building has not been in use since 1985. Plans for the museum indicate that the county used the building as storage space for several years, but that it has been unoccupied since then. Over time, the roof collapsed in two sections of the building.
Jerman said fundraising efforts have started with more opportunities to come. The nonprofit organization is also seeking grant resources. In addition, donations from the public are accepted and can be mailed to Warren County Historical Museum, Inc., PO Box 604, Warrenton, NC 27589.
While preparations are underway for the restoration of the old prison, the organization is soliciting the opinion of the community on what to present in the museum. A community forum will be held early next year, but a date has yet to be set.
“The community will come together to express their ideas and thoughts on what they want to see,” Jerman said.
In addition, the museum’s eight-member board, which served as a working group, will be expanded to 20 to include members of the community.
“We want the finished product to be something that everyone can support,” Jerman said.
George described the museum as a facility that will draw people to Warren County and encourage former residents to return.
“When you have a facility in the community that you are proud of, it will attract people,” he said. “It will bring people back into the community. “
Jerman said the council is currently working on developing the concept for the museum.
“We won’t finalize it until we have the opportunity to meet people,” she said. “This is not our museum. It is the county museum.
The board of directors is continuing to research the history of the prison and the county in order to find new inspiration for the museum while awaiting the architectural drawings. Plans for a museum website are underway. The council invites young people from the region to participate in the development of the website.