The mission of McDuffie Museum is to instill in the citizens of McDuffie County, especially its youth, an understanding of their heritage and sense of pride in the history of their community.
McDuffie Museum started several years ago when a group of visionary citizens saw a great need for the preservation of history in their county. They all agreed that a museum would be the best way to collect and archive history, but a building was needed. In 2000, SunTrust Bank donated their old buildings on Thomson’s Main Street, to this group (that later became the museum board) with the understanding that they’d be used for the public good. The two buildings were originally the “First National Bank of Thomson” (c. 1899) and “Thomson Drugs” (c. 1904).
Since a local history museum was new frontier for McDuffie County, the museum board decided to enlist the help of professionals. In 2006, a grant from Watson Brown’s Junior Board made it possible to bring in Durel Consulting Partners, a Maryland based company, to provide direction. The Durels spent several months in the area interviewing county citizens and conducting group meetings. This process rendered the framework for McDuffie Museum’s master plan which included business and exhibit ideas and building renovations.
Extensive rehabilitation was needed to turn the two buildings into a museum. The bank building originally had a 20’ ceiling and balcony overlooking the main lobby. All of these beautiful architectural features were covered by three dropped acoustical tile ceilings that housed years of antiquated wiring. Similar issues were exhibited in the pharmacy building. The museum board hired 2KM architects (an Augusta based architectural firm), to draw rehabilitation plans that suited a museum’s needs while preserving the historical and architectural integrity of the original buildings.
Two State Construction Co. of Thomson, was hired to execute the rehabilitation plans. For several months they worked full time on the first phase of rehab- three gallery spaces, caterers’ kitchen, office space, and restrooms. Phase two rehab includes elevator installation, addition of gallery four, and restoration of the pharmacy’s second story. We are currently in the process of raising money to start phase two of the rehab, and have no set date for its completion. McDuffie Museum received several grants for its rehab project two of which came from the Watson Brown Foundation.
In January 2009, McDuffie Museum opened its doors with “Key Ingredients: America by Food”, an exhibit that came from the Museums on Main Street division of the Smithsonian Institute. Since that time, McDuffie Museum has hosted several other exciting exhibits, the most important being McDuffie County’s history.
The exhibition is a result of a Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant from the Georgia Council for the Arts awarded to Floyd Anderson of Milledgeville. The grant allowed Randy Cannon of Milledgeville and Brian Renko of Gray, GA to serve as white oak…Read More »