In a memorandum circulated on Thursday, Tem Blackburn, Curator of the Vance County Historical Museum, unveiled a plan to relocate principal exhibits of the museum to McGregor Hall in the H. Leslie Perry Memorial Library.
In the memorandum, which was faxed to Vance County Manager Jerry Ayscue, Henderson City Manager Jerry Moss, Chairman of Embassy Square Foundation Sam Watkins, Director of the Downtown Development Commission Phil Lakernik, and President of the Vance County Historical Society Russ Wunker, Blackburn proposes that eight to ten kiosks with four reversible panels, approximately eight feet tall and four feet wide be constructed for the purpose of display and storage.
The curator of the currently defunct museum proposed in the memo that to pay for the expense of construction that the building in which the museum is currently housed, the Southern First National Bank Building, be conveyed to the Vance County Historical Society for the purpose of resale with the hope that the proceeds would be equal to the cost of the construction of the kiosks.
Blackburn states that the sale would be made through the North Carolina Trust for Historic Preservation with appropriate preservation covenants imposed to provide for restoration of the museum building.
He also proposed that Phil Lakernick consider undertaking the project due to his extensive experience in construction and project management.
Blackburn states that the situation in the museum is very bad. He indicates that the refusal of the City to contribute a pro-rata amount for repair of the HVAC system “inevitably resulted in wholesale deterioration of the internal plaster”. He estimates the cost in excess of $40,000 in damaged plaster, destroyed historic papers and damage to artifacts.
The matter was brought to the attention of the Land Planning and Development Committee by Moss at its scheduled meeting on Thursday. Moss advised the Committee that Blackburn had stated that he had a potential buyer for the museum building.
Committee member Ranger Wilkerson indicated that he could not go along with someone telling the city how to spend the money.
Committee Chair Bobby Gupton suggested that Blackburn be asked to come up with prices for the kiosks. He also stated that he was “fine with selling the building, but that the sale should not be contingent on building kiosks”. He also asked if the construction of the kiosks would involve both City and County money.
Moss replied that Blackburn had stated that he had mentioned the matter to a “few commissioners” and Ayscue and it “didn’t seem to be a problem”.
It was resolved that a price for construction of the kiosks would be obtained, as well as the tax value of the museum building itself. It was the general consensus that the revenue generated by the sale of the building should exceed the cost of kiosk construction.