Greater Talladega Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Mack Ferguson announced Wednesday during a meeting with the Talladega Merchant’s Association that the displays from a Creek Indian exhibit at the Birmingham Museum of Art had already been purchased, and an agreement was already in place with a similar museum in Moundville to exchange artifacts. At least one local donor has come forward to offer his collection of artifacts, Ferguson said.
Planning for the museum began at the early meetings of the Downtown Revitalization Task Force three years ago. That organization is now part of the chamber, but early chairman Pat Greene continued to pursue the museum project, especially after hearing that the Birmingham exhibit would be coming down soon.
“They initially wanted $130,000, but we eventually talked them down to $5,000,” Ferguson said. “We agreed to disassemble the exhibit and get it here ourselves.”
Even so, the chamber did not have the money to purchase the exhibit outright when the contract was signed last Thursday, Ferguson said. In two days, Camp Mac, the Talladega Rotary Club and the law firm of Campbell and Campbell had donated enough money to complete the initial purchase.
The displays will remain in storage until a site for the new museum can be chosen. Ferguson said there were three vacant buildings on the square that were under consideration. All three would need some work first, he said, such as updating sprinkler systems and making roof repairs. Money for the up-front renovations could possibly come from a United Stated Department of Agriculture grant and revolving loan fund.
Ferguson said he would also be approaching other service organizations to try and get contributions toward “sustaining money,” which he estimated at about $5,000 per year.
Still, the operating cost would be well worth it, he said. City and county school superintendents have already expressed support for the project, and schools from surrounding counties will be approached as well. The new building may also hold some classrooms.
“Anything that generates activity on the square is a good thing,” Ferguson said. “But you don’t want to just stir up the tourists, you want to bring in people from around here also.”
Also during Wednesday’s meeting, the TMA:
• Discussed the possibility of extending the market day on the square in October and holding other special events on different Saturdays throughout the year.
• Announced they would meet again Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the chamber to begin planning for Halloween and the Walk of Fame induction ceremony.
• Discussed electing a TMA member to serve on the chamber’s Board of Directors. This completes the merger of the two organizations. The TMA now serves as a standing committee of the chamber.
• Discussed submitting proposals to the City Council asking to modify the historic preservation ordinance and the 2 hour parking restriction on the square.
Contact Chris Norwood at firstname.lastname@example.org