County museum proposal would convert historic courthouse

CREDIT: Upstateherd | (CC BY-SA 4.0)

ASHEBORO — There’s movement toward the creation of a Randolph County museum to be housed on the first floor of the historic courthouse.

“Placing a museum on the first floor here is quite feasible and in and of itself not all that costly,” said Ross Holt, the Randolph County Library director who presented a feasibility study on the project to county commissioners. “We are at a decision point.”

Much of the cost associated with the museum is connected to renovations to the courthouse, Holt said. He said it’s a two-pronged project.

In all, the price tag could be as high as nearly $2.84 million.

County commissioners approved $198,600 to go ahead with design work with Hobbs Architects from Pittsboro.

Holt said his group’s study determined that the courthouse’s first floor is well-suited for a museum. There are three areas that can be repurposed into about 2,000 square feet of potential exhibit space in the $300,000 cost range.

The biggest expense would be more than $1.96 million for the addition of an elevator tower on the building’s east side that would be needed to meet code requirements, and for an HVAC system for the basement and first floor.

Chevon Moore with Hobbs Architects said some demolition work is needed to repair water damage in the basement. Elsewhere, there were positives.

“The building is in really good shape” on some floors, Moore said.

She said a renovation plan would include taking out an existing elevator and stairway, so that new ones would meet existing code requirements.

Holt said Hobbs Architects guided reconstruction of the Chatham County Courthouse after a 2010 fire and redeveloped that site into a local history museum.

Randolph County has precious historic artifacts, Holt said, that need to be properly preserved. That makes storage areas a critical need for the museum.

Holt said visions of a long-desired Randolph County history museum “to tell Randolph County’s unique story” are becoming closer to reality.

Design work and the bidding process for work are expected to take about 11 months. Then the construction phase would likely be another 12 months.

By Bob Sutton

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