The Franklin County Historical Society has a problem. It’s actually kind of a good one.
Its headquarters/museum/bookstore is crammed into an old dwelling on Main Street in Rocky Mount, the Flora Morris House.
There, you can feast your eyes on all kinds of historical tidbits about moonshine-making technology and the backwoods characters who devised it; exhibits of famous Civil War-era commanders from Franklin County; Coca Cola memorabilia and more.
On the walls are photos of a visit to Rocky Mount by the Dymaxion, an 11-passenger, 1933 van designed by famed inventor R. Buckminister Fuller. Only three were ever manufactured. The contraption got 30 miles to the gallon and looks like a self-propelled Airstream trailer on three wheels.
But the exhibits are so jammed into 2,300-square feet over two stories that if there are more than 10 people in the joint, it can be difficult to move around. Many of the visitors are aged and are challenged by the creaky stairs leading to the second floor.
And the displays are merely a tiny slice of the historical treasures the society owns. There’s lots more in the basement and in off-site storage.
“We have thousands of books, a huge array of uncounted documents including family papers and unpublished research, rare portraits, paintings, photographs, weapons, examples of early life and trade in the area,” said Linda Stanley, director of the historical society.
So the group is planning a 1,000-square-foot expansion that’s going to cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, including installation of an elevator to the second floor.
Its first stab at raising that money comes later this month, with a Barbecue Gala at the Jubal Early Homeplace, an old tobacco plantation off Virginia 116 that’s now on the National Register of Historic Place.
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