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Civil War history center funding up for consideration

The City Council is expected to consider $6.6M for the N.C. History Center on the Civil War, Emancipation & Reconstruction


Officials with the N.C. History Center on the Civil War, Emancipation & Reconstruction are expected to give another update to the Fayetteville City Council on Monday while requesting $6.6 million toward the completion of the facility.

Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin said Saturday that Councilman Johnny Dawkins will be reintroducing the issue for the council to make a decision.

“What I expect," he said, "it will ask the council to support authorizing the city manager to draft an agreement that will come back to us and propose that to the foundation. It would come with funding and the terms around that.”

As part of the process, the City Council will be asked to adopt a budget ordinance amendment.

“What you do when you adopt a budget ordinance now,” Colvin said, “you know that’s a step before appropriating the money. That puts the process of funding into motion. I think that’s probably tied to it, but it would come with contingencies. I hope. That’s my goal. Come with the requirement of some commitment in exchange for it.”

The financial commitment, he added, "would be used for brick and mortar, not artifacts. It would be for an advisory position for a City Council appointee (to ensure) that the content would not have a Confederate-leaning narrative. A lot of stuff they’re committed to but put it in writing.”

Colvin said he wanted the proposed history center’s place in the Fayetteville community made clear for future generations.

According to a resolution submitted by the history center’s foundation board of directors: “Be it resolved that the foundation board of directors is formally requesting that the Fayetteville City Council award the foundation a grant of $6.6 million toward the costs associated with building, equipping, furnishing, and creating content and exhibits for the history center.”

The resolution was adopted by the history center's foundation board of directors on Sept. 16.

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Mac Healy, the chairman of the foundation, said his group has been asked to make another presentation before the council. It will be an update over the last three weeks from the center’s last presentation to the City Council.

“After that,” he said, “it’s up to them.”

The history center is affiliated with the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex and will be located at the site of the remains of the U.S. Arsenal at Fayetteville, which was held by both Union and Confederate forces during the Civil War.

The leaders of the project say the center is designed to be a “teaching” center rather than a “collecting” museum. Rather than focusing on artifacts from the past, the center — as defined by its organizers — will tell the stories of North Carolinians from all walks of life, including Blacks, Native American Indians and women.

The projected cost of the history center is a total of $80 million, with the state legislature providing $60 million in its latest budget. Cumberland County earlier this year reaffirmed its commitment of $7.5 million for the center contingent on the city standing by its commitment.

The council meets at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com.


Fayetteville, City Council, N.C. History Center on the Civil War, Emancipation & Reconstruction