Norwood Museum receives $100K from legislature

“This museum is a ‘personal’ place to me,” says Larry McMahon when asked his thoughts on the Norwood Museum. “This is not a place where we read that ‘George Washington slept here,’ or see items that maybe once belonged to a celebrity … this place is about people I know and things that I’ve seen living here through the years.”

McMahon, chair of the Norwood Museum Board of Directors, was among those gathered at the museum recently to celebrate the award of a $100,000 grant from the North Carolina Legislature for restoration and preservation of existing artifacts as well as improvements to the museum facility itself.

“These funds will enable the Norwood Museum to preserve the legacy of our town,” said Dylan Frick, who worked closely with the museum board in formulating the grant request and application. “It has been an honor working with this group, which is united by a shared passion for our town’s history.”

“Dylan has been instrumental in this process,” McMahon added.

Present for the ceremony in addition to Frick and McMahon were N.C. Rep. Wayne Sasser (R-67), N.C. Sen. Carl Ford (R-33) and legislative research assistant Cody Huneycutt. Representatives of the museum board, town commissioners and town administration were also in attendance.

McMahon spoke to the gathering on the ongoing projects of the museum, as well as the planned use of the grant funding.

“Back in 2009, the town was looking to sell a 1957 Ford fire truck that was being replaced. We went to the fire department and asked if they would donate it to the museum, and they graciously did,” he recalled.

One of the primary uses of the grant funds will be to restore the truck, said McMahon, who noted that all restoration will be done locally, and that plans are in progress to arrange for the truck to be exhibited in a bay adjacent to the museum.

Larry McMahon is at the Norwood Museum with a photo of the 1957 Ford fire truck that the town plans to restore. (Photo by TOBY THORPE)

While the fire truck restoration is a priority for the grant funds, it is by no means the only need the funds will meet, McMahon added.

“Funding will be used to purchase a laptop computer for the museum, to install a security system, to restore the 110-year-old Norwood School bell, to purchase tents for outdoor events and exhibits, and to install new tile flooring, spotlights and blinds in the museum building.”

Ford spoke briefly about the process within the legislature that resulted in funding of the grant.

“When Dylan came to me with this, he wanted $40,000,” said Ford. “When I went to (Senate President) Berger with the request, he said, ‘We can’t do that.’ So, I asked, ‘What can we do?’ He said, ‘We can’t do anything less than $100,000 … Can they find a place to use it?’ I told him,‘Okay, I’m sure they can.’ ”

Sasser, who lived in Norwood for 12 years, commended the board on its willingness to seek the grant.

“If you ask, you might not get funded, but if you don’t ask, you definitely won’t get funded,” he said.

Sasser also commented that the 2023-24 state budget “doesn’t have a dime of borrowed money in it.”

“If anyone wants to complain about (the legislature) funding things like a museum, remind them of that,” he said.

Huneycutt, who serves as Sasser’s research assistant, and who plans to run for the District 67 seat in 2024, thanked the museum board for their persistence and foresight in closing.

“Thank you for your passion,” he said. “Stanly County and every single town in it are rich with history. It would never be possible to preserve that history without groups like yours.”

Interested in visiting?

The Norwood Museum is at the corner of Pee Dee Avenue and Campbell Street beside the Norwood Branch Library at 205 Pee Dee Ave. in Norwood. Hours are noon to 6 p.m. Monday and Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Toby Thorpe is a freelance writer for The Stanly News & Press.