Roundhouse museum fundraiser planned Sunday

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While the walls go up at the Oliver Nestus Freeman Roundhouse Museum, a fundraiser planned for Sunday hopes to raise the roof.

“The event will be a way to come together as a community and lend whatever support people can — whether it is $10 or a couple hundred,” said Ken Jones, museum board member. “If everyone works together to do their part, it will add up to make a big difference.”

The bulk of the $372,000 needed for a museum expansion has been raised, but museum proponents are hoping a fundraiser from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday at 217 Brew Works will help foot the construction bill along with operating costs. In addition to popular beers from Brew Works, food trucks will be on-site and three musical acts will entertain attendees — Triple Wide, Bill Myers Trio and The Bake Lite Boys. A portion of the proceeds will be earmarked for the museum and volunteers will be accepting donations.

“We wanted to support the museum with this event because, No. 1, we consider the museum in our neighborhood and we want to help it thrive,” said Brew Works founder Tom Curran. “No. 2: it is a very significant part of Wilson’s history and culture that deserves to be expanded. Also, the group has raised the lion’s share of the museum expansion, so we wanted to honor their efforts.”

With the foundation finished, crews are framing the space this week. In the coming months, Hill Building Contractors will transform a spot on the museum grounds from green space to a 2,000-square-foot expansion with room for new exhibits.

“So far things have gone fairly well,” said Jones, who volunteered to oversee construction of the expansion. “We’d hoped we would not have to cut down a big tree on the lot, but we had to remove it. There is a lot of work to be done still, but people will see some strong progress this week.”

The response to the project has been overwhelmingly positive and Jones said he is eager to see the expanded museum not only highlight local African-American history, but the Wilson community as a whole.

“We want the museum to highlight the time from incorporation in 1849 and all of the milestones in Wilson through the years,” Jones said. “The museum also fits the overall strategy with Wilson downtown revitalization with the arts council, the whirligig museum, Imagination Station — it fits together and this is just one piece.”

The event Sunday is free to attend, but donations are suggested. Curran said the fundraiser wouldn’t be possible without contributions from Medlin Buick, Peak Demand, First South Bank, Wally’s Hot Dogs, Fat Cat Music, Advantage Rental and others as well as the leadership of Billy Myers, the executive director of the museum.

“Bill is in his 80s, but he’s been a wonderful representative for the city, county and state,”Curran said. “He has been a real role model of hometown dedication.”

To learn more about the Freeman museum, visit www.theroundhousemuseum.com/.

bhandgraaf@wilsontimes.com | 265-7821