A $1,050,000 grant from a number of sources will help the nonprofit organization The Birthplace of Country Music move forward on an expansion project for the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, located in Historic Downtown Bristol, Virginia-Tennessee.
The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission approved $500,000 for the BCM expansion as part of its mission to generate economic growth in agriculture and tourism sectors and attract new businesses to Southwest Virginia.
“The funding from the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission will enable us to move forward on applying for historic and new market tax credits,” said Leah Ross, Executive Director of Advancement for BCM. “Grant funding and tax credits ensures we’ll be able to open with zero debt.”
In December of last year, the United States Congress signed the FY 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act into law. This omnibus included $500,000 of Community Project Funding to assist BCM with the building project.
BCM was also awarded $50,000 from the Genan Foundation, a private philanthropic foundation created in 1987 by the late Anne and Gene Worrell, who owned and operated Worrell Newspapers. The company started in Bristol and eventually purchased the Bristol Herald Courier, then expanded to include more than 30 papers across the country.
The former Automotive Service & Supply building, located next door to the museum, was donated to BCM in 2014 by local businessman Joseph R. Gregory and his wife Cindy. According to Bristol, Virginia tax records, the two-story, 7,800 foot structure—now referred to as the Annex—was constructed in 1881. The application form for downtown’s inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places indicates it was built circa 1900 and originally used as a grain, feed, fertilizer and cement warehouse.
BCM plans for the building include a new special exhibit area and climate-controlled archival storage, in addition to adding offices, restrooms and event space. Some work has already been done to shore up the building’s structure and dig an elevator shaft. The project is expected to take 18 to 24 months to complete once construction starts, and the $3.6 million renovation will increase the museum’s size to 41,000 square feet.
The Birthplace of Country Music Museum is part of parent company BCM’s mission to perpetuate, promote, and celebrate Bristol’s rich music heritage. Through the museum, the annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival and WBCM Radio Bristol, BCM seeks to educate and engage audiences worldwide regarding the history, impact, and legacy of the 1927 Bristol Sessions from which BCM derives its name; and to create recognition, opportunities, and economic benefit for BCM’s local and regional communities.
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