Expansion plans developing for train exhibit, Harris Hall

Dec. 03, 2012 @ 10:46 PM

The Granville County History Museum is expanding. Again.

And the Granville County Historical Society is asking for help to make it happen.
In part to provide permanent exhibit space for the recent acquisition of Curt Tillotson’s train collection, the board of directors of the Granville County Historical Society has commissioned an architect and an exhibit designer to develop plans for an expansion of Harris Hall.
Tillotson’s collection includes model trains and thousands of photographs documenting the history of railroads in Granville County — items that can more than fill the space now available.
As the expanded facility is visualized, the storage rooms at the rear of Harris Hall will become a train exhibit room, research room, workshop and storage facility.
It is hoped the train collection will be an attraction for children and adults as well as a resource in researching trains and railroad history.
The Harris Hall Expansion Campaign has set a goal of raising $250,000. The expansion targets providing more exhibit space, relocation of the workshop, creation of better office space, and expansion and diversity for the museum programs.
The Granville County History Museum makes a unique contribution to the state’s heritage. It offers glimpses of the history of an area that is representative of the small towns and rural areas that make up so much of North Carolina, something not often contained in larger urban museums.
Donations can be made at the museum’s website, granvillemuseum.com; by mail to Granville County Historical Society, Inc., P.O. Box 1433, Oxford, NC 27565; and by phone to (919) 693-9706.
The museum also accepts donations of historical items — from Granville County or elsewhere — to add to its collection.
The original museum was housed in the former jail building on Court Street. In 1970, the Oxford Woman’s Club had saved the old Granville County Jail from demolition. Built around 1860, the jail had outlived its usefulness in its original role.
But what better place to operate a history museum than in a building that is itself a historic edifice? That’s exactly what the club did for more than 20 years.
A change in sponsorship occurred in 1994 when the Granville County Historical Society leased the building from the county and began a makeover. In 1996, coinciding with the 250th anniversary of Granville County, the museum re-opened in the renovated jail building.
A former freezer locker plant, located behind the jail, was acquired in 1998 and a new facility opened in May 2000 and named Harris Hall.
With the opening of Harris Hall, the museum in the old jail was closed and renovated to become the home for permanent exhibits about the history of Granville County.
In November 2006, the Granville County History Museum again opened in the jail building.

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.