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City Council to hear update on Civil War history center


The Fayetteville City Council today is expected to hear an update on the North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center.

The $80 million Civil War history center will be built off Arsenal Avenue at the intersection of Hay Street and the Martin Luther King Jr. Freeway and will become part of the state-supported Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex. Proponents say it would be the first state-supported museum in the nation to provide an interpretation of the Civil War and Reconstruction era from the perspective of an entire state.

Organizers have said it would bring 200 jobs and $18 million a year in economic impact to the Fayetteville area.

In a memo to the City Council, Mac Healy — chairman of the board of directors for the history center foundation — provided an update on the center’s progress. He said the design team and scholars have begun to develop the history center’s story.

He also provided a list of some of the scholars who are working with the history center. They include Spencer Crew,  who recently served as interim director of the Smithsonian’s African American Museum of History and Culture, and Harry Watson, a history professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Healy said the center is collecting 100 stories of the era from all 100 North Carolina counties. Once a story is submitted, it is vetted and if it proves to be accurate it will become part of the history center’s story, the memo states.

“Next month our design team will be bringing the initial storyboards revealing the initial design for the history center exhibits to Fayetteville for a public showing,’’ Healy states in the memo included in the agenda packet. “This will involve an open location where for over a week anyone can come and at their leisure view the plans and comment.’’

The memo also touches on funding. 

“Because of the city’s commitment to the history center project, first approved on December 12, 2016, we were able to convince the North Carolina state legislature to provide $60 million in major funding from the current state budget to help construct the center with its exhibits and programs,’’ the memo states. 

The City Council adopted a resolution on Dec. 12, 2016, agreeing to commit $7.5 million toward the project.

In the memo to the council, Healy says that since the council’s initial approval of the project, costs have increased. He says the group is “at the point that we need to let contracts to hold prices and begin the construction/design phase.’’

“We owe it to the people of Fayetteville and the state of North Carolina to bring the history center forward now without incurring extra costs — the extra costs of every day that we wait for promised funding,’’ the memo states.

A memo to the City Council from Chief of Staff Jodi Phelps outlines the city’s support of the center in addition to the 2016 resolution committing $7.5 million to the project. It includes:  

  • In 2015, the city provided $100,000 to support the development of project plans for the proposed site.
  • In June 2018, it donated 17 parcels to the foundation for the history center.

Today’s council work session begins at 5 p.m. in the City Hall council chambers.

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Fayetteville, City Council, North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center