The Matthews Heritage Museum is a dream that’s about to become a reality.
The nonprofit Matthews Historical Foundation recently announced the museum expects to open May 11. Housed in the circa-1880 Massey-Clark house at 232 N. Trade St., the museum will tell the story of Matthews from the early 1800s to the 1950s.
The historical foundation will spend the next two months collecting artifacts, finalizing displays, carting the materials to the site and fine tuning the three planned galleries, Paula Lester, the foundation’s president, said.
“We are still looking for (historical) Matthews photos and artifacts,” Lester said. “We’ll continue that, probably, indefinitely.”
The first of the three galleries will focus on early commerce in Matthews, with exhibits including a large “King Cotton” display, a Bank of Matthews area complete with a teller and teller cage, a communications corner with a switchboard and crank telephone and a large freestanding display highlighting some of the town’s early merchants.
The second gallery, “Lifestyles,” will focus on life in the early 1900s. Exhibits will feature the early Matthews and Crestdale schools, historical children’s toys and games, children’s household chores and a glimpse into early 20th century homes.
A recreated front porch, living room and kitchen also will be displayed, along with information about life without electricity and running water.
The third gallery, “Community,” will feature displays of businesses unique to Matthews, including “Doc” Yandle and the Matthews Drugstore, Sustar’s Swimming Pool, Outen Pottery, local physicians and more. The room also will include an exhibit for World Wars I and II and information about Matthews’ population growth by the decade.
Last year town commissioners approved giving the nonprofit $212,000 in tourism money to pay for the museum’s starting costs and in 2011 gave $7,000 to the foundation to help pay for design work and $1,200 a month for six months to pay for utilities and maintenance expenses.
Using the less than 1,000 square feet available for gallery space was a challenge, but the foundation will make it work, according to a Matthews Historical Foundation news release.
“When visitors leave (the museum), they will have a good working knowledge of the history of Matthews and we will have met our goal,” the release stated.
As the museum opens and expands its services, the Matthews Historical Foundation is proposing hiring a historical/cultural coordinator. Lester met with town commissioners last week to discuss the possibility. The coordinator – who would be paid by Matthews – would be responsible for managing the museum, training volunteers and organizing community events, such as walking tours, among other tasks.
Although no decision has been made, Lester said it’s something she and foundation members want the town to consider as things move forward.
“Eventually, that’s something we’ll need to look at,” she said. “There are all kinds of things that are possible (and) it would take someone with the time to devote to doing those things.”
Lester said the museum will need volunteers to serve as docents, welcome guests and answer visitors’ questions, as well as help with inventory, cataloging and storage.
Area residents interested in volunteering should call Paula Lester at 704-847-7610.
For museum updates and opening information visit www.matthewsheritagemuseum.org.