Tryon approves visitor’s center/museum at town hall

Published 12:34 pm Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Although Tryon council members are not sure exactly where yet, commissioners approved housing a Tryon visitor’s center and museum in town hall.

Council met April 16 and heard from Happy McLeod, who heads an ad hoc committee formed to create a museum and relocate the town’s visitor’s center.

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The effort is being coordinated through the committee, town council, the Tryon Downtown Development Association (TDDA) and the Tryon Tourism Development Commission (TTDA).

McLeod said the effort started last summer when she represented Tryon in the Small Town Main Street Program. She said the program is not to help small towns survive, but to help them thrive. She said Tryon was used as an example on several occasions, including using Morris the horse as a way of branding the town and the outhouse races during the April Fool’s festival as being something unique. What Tryon is missing, McLeod said, is Tryon’s story, what attracts you neighbors.

“I thought this was the area maybe we had dropped the ball on,” McLeod said. “We need to stand up and tell people who we are.”

The committee has held two meetings so far with McLeod saying 16 residents attended the first and 10 attended the second. There are several subjects, or sub-committees established to work on the history of Tryon, including the equestrian community, the arts, toy makers, churches, architecture, vineyards, schools and genealogy.

Tryon Mayor Alan Peoples said he has enough historical items to fill up at least one room and he knows of another person who has 60 pieces to fill another two rooms. Peoples is representing council on the committee.

“Eventually I’d like to see an elevator (at town hall) because we have 900 square feet upstairs that’s not utilized,” Peoples said.

Commissioner Roy Miller asked if the group has looked at other places.

McLeod said town hall is the only place to be. It’s the right location and with the parking and ramp coming into the area there’s no better place.

“And it’s the most affordable,” McLeod said. “Hopefully down the road we will have the money to have someone run it and move to a larger place.”

Town hall offices moved in recent years from the middle of the building to the right side due to mold issues. Some have suggested the museum/visitor’s center be located where offices are currently located and offices be moved back to the middle of the building.

The town recently began working on removing the moisture and mold in the building.

Miller said he agreed that part of the reason for moving the offices was because of the mold but the other was because of the congestion of the staff.

“I think if we move all of our staff back to that side we’re going to have the same problem we started out with,” Miller said.

Miller also brought up issues with parking. He said months ago the town was looking at additional property across the street for parking for staff.

Commissioner Doug Arbogast asked why the museum couldn’t be located in the empty space where offices were formerly located.

“I’m not opposed to the museum,” Miller said. “I think it’s already congested there as far as parking. I could agree with Doug (about housing the museum in the current empty space).”

McLeod said the committee is open.

“We’re not locked in to one end of the building or the other,” said McLeod.

Council decided having an architect volunteer to look at town hall and suggest the best use of the space.

McLeod said the committee is trying to get any monies raised funneled through the Polk County Community Foundation and she already has two possible grants to apply for. She said the next step following council’s approval is to meet with the N.C. Small Town Main Street Program and the Western Archives and History in Asheville, who help towns with such projects.