Fu­ture of New­ton County His­tory Cen­ter be­comes clearer

Con­struc­tion to be­gin in June

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Rachel Oswald

Once ar­chi­tec­tural draw­ings for the New­ton County His­tory Cen­ter are re­ceived, the county plans to be­gin ac­cept­ing bid pro­pos­als with con­struc­tion slated to be­gin this June.

Dur­ing a project meet­ing at The Cen­ter for Com­mu­nity Preser­va­tion and Plan­ning Thurs­day evening, Ch­eryl Delk, spe­cial projects co­or­di­na­tor for the county, said the goal is to have the His­tory Cen­ter open to the pub­lic by the be­gin­ning of 2009.

“Our goal is for it to be a hub,” Delk said, adding that she saw the His­tory Cen­ter as an epi­cen­ter from which tourists would be dis­patched to the county’s many his­tor­i­cal at­trac­tions such as Gaithers Plan­ta­tion and the Brick Store.

Lo­cated at the old county jail, the His­tory Cen­ter is en­vi­sioned as the host of both lo­cal ex­hibits and trav­el­ing ex­hibits.

“We re­ally want it to be a lively place be­cause chil­dren are so hard to in­ter­est nowa­days,” Delk said.

Kathy Dix­son of Avient Mu­seum Ser­vices, the firm con­tracted by the county to as­sist in the de­vel­op­ment of the His­tory Cen­ter, gave at­ten­dees an over­view of the floor plans thus far for the old jail.

Once re­mod­eled the His­tory Cen­ter will have a new front porch com­plete with rock­ing chairs for vis­i­tors to re­lax in while they lis­ten to au­dio record­ings of fid­dle mu­sic sim­i­lar to that played 100 years ago at the jail.

The His­tory Cen­ter’s first floor will con­tain space for vis­i­tor ori­en­ta­tion and a com­mu­nity meet­ing room where an in­tro­duc­tory video on the his­tory of the county will be shown. Re­strooms and a small food prepa­ra­tion area will also be lo­cated on the first floor. The foyer of the His­tory Cen­ter will present a his­tory of the jail and its sher­iffs.

The vis­i­tor ori­en­ta­tion room will con­tain a map of New­ton County’s his­toric sites and ref­er­ence in­for­ma­tion on th­ese sites. Other his­tor­i­cal re­sources will also be avail­able for res­i­dents and tourists to study. The room will hold a small se­lec­tion of items, re­lated to the his­tory of the county avail­able for sale.

The His­tory Cen­ter’s com­mu­nity meet­ing room will house collapsible ta­bles and stack­ing chairs to al­low for flexible use of the space. One pro­posal is for the tops of the ta­bles to con­tain “fun facts” about New­ton County. Two-sided ex­hibit pan­els on the walls will be used to dis­play both long-term ex­hibits and trav­el­ing ex­hibits. A flat-screen television will also be lo­cated in the room.

The first floor will hold two gallery rooms; one with chang­ing ex­hibits cre­ated by the His­tory Cen­ter and the other will hold in­ter­pre­ta­tive pan­els on the sher- iffs’ his­toric liv­ing spa­ces at the front of the jail.

Gal­leries three, four and five will be lo­cated on the sec­ond floor. Gallery three will be used for chang­ing ex­hibits on dif­fer­ent parts of the county’s his­tory such as man­u­fac­tur­ing and the Amer­i­can In­dian tribes that lived in the county prior to the ar­rival of the colonists.

Wall pan­els with a time­line of the county’s his­tory are also to be de­vel­oped for this gallery space.

Gallery four will be de­vel­oped as a long-term ex­hibit on episodes in the county’s his­tory and the dif­fer­ent perspectives of dif­fer­ent peo­ple. Ten­ta­tively called “On Com­mon Ground but in Dif­fer­ent Shoes,” the ex­hibit will con­tain writ­ten, graphic, ar­ti­fac­tual and au­dio-vis­ual sources. Oral his­to­ries will also be in­cor­po­rated into this ex­hibit. It is yet to be de­ter­mined whether gallery five will con­tain per­ma­nent or tem­po­rary ex­hibits.

The sec­ond floor’s jail cells will re­main in place as re­mov­ing them would be too ex­pen­sive. In­stead the jail cells will fea­ture in­ter­pre­ta­tive pan­els ex­plain­ing more of the jail’s his­tory, con­struc­tion and the uses to which it was put. The in­di­vid­ual sto­ries about var­i­ous groups and in­di­vid­u­als who were in­car­cer­ated will also be de­tailed on pan­els in the cells.

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