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UncategorizedVa.'s 'Birthplace of Country Music' preps for expansion

Va.’s ‘Birthplace of Country Music’ preps for expansion

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The Birthplace of Country Music (BCM) has been awarded just over $1 million in grant funding from a number of sources that will help the non-profit organization move forward on an expansion project for the Birthplace of Country Music Museum located in historic downtown Bristol, which straddles the Virginia-Tennessee border.

The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission approved $500,000 for the 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 tax credits,” said Leah Ross, executive director of advancement for the Birthplace of Country Music. “Grant funding and tax credits ensure we’ll be able to open with zero debt.”

Another $500,000 came from Congress late last year in community-project funding. The organization was also awarded $50,000 from the Genan Foundation, a private philanthropic organization created in 1987 by the late Anne and Gene Worrell, who owned and operated Worrell Newspapers.

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The former Automotive Service & Supply building, located next door to the museum, was donated to Birthplace of Country Music in 2014 by local businessman Joseph Gregory and his wife, Cindy. The couple had purchased the building from Cecil Hopkins Jr. and his wife, Angela. Hopkins’ father founded the United Motor Services parts franchise at that location in 1935.

According to tax records, the two-story, 7,800-square-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 used as a grain, feed, fertilizer and cement warehouse. Hopkins confirmed the building later housed the Bristol Motor Co.’s Buick dealership.

BCM plans for the building include a 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.

Once tax credits are secured, renovations can begin. The project is expected to take 18 to 24 months to complete once construction starts.
The $3.6 million renovation will increase the museum’s size to 41,000 square feet.

For more information about the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, visit birthplaceofcountrymusic.org.

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