Coming soon: Matthews history museum

Town to give $212,000 in tourism funds for Clark House’s new use

by Kara Lopp

The town of Matthews will give $212,000 to turn the Clark House (above) into a Matthews history museum. MMHW file photo

By Dec. 1, Matthews could have its own history museum.

Town commissioners voted Monday, March 12 to give the nonprofit Matthews Historical Foundation $212,000 in tourism money to pay for the museum’s starting costs, which include $12,000 for a part-time museum and foundation director. The move comes after the town-created Museum Task Force was formed to study the issue.

The museum will be housed inside the circa-1880, 1,480 square-foot Clark House, 232 N. Trade St., in downtown Matthews. In March 2011, the town gave $7,000 to the foundation to help pay for design work to create a museum in the house and also approved $1,200 a month for six months to pay for utilities and maintenance expenses.

The museum, to be staffed by volunteers, will pay homage to the history of Matthews. The foundation will request $25,000 in town tourism funds each year for operating expenses. The town’s tourism fund is the town’s share of hotel and motel occupancy and prepared-food and beverage taxes.

“The Matthews Historical Foundation thanks the Town of Matthews and museum task force for making this dream a reality. We are just thrilled about it,” Paula Lester, president of the Matthews Historical Foundation, said. “I think it will be really nice for that little house and a nice asset for downtown.”

Each room in the house will be dedicated to a historical element that makes up the town’s heritage, such as the former Bank of Matthews, cotton and the railroad, Lester said. The rooms would display photographs and artifacts collected from those time periods, including ledgers and a bank teller station from the Bank of Matthews, she said. Officials also hope to have some interactive exhibits and plans are in the works to create DVDs featuring longtime Matthews residents sharing their stories.

“We think the museum will be a catalyst for more tourism in Matthews by creating a walkable environment to visit not only the museum, but other historical buildings in town,” Lester told commissioners in a memo.

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