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About the Museum

The purpose of the Caldwell Heritage Museum is to preserve the history of Caldwell County for future generations.  The Museum is supported by private donations and is governed by a Board of Directors who are incorporated as the Caldwell Heritage Museum, Inc. Members of the board are elected by the Caldwell County Historical Society.  

            Although the museum  is now a separately incorporated entity, it owes its beginnings to the efforts of the Caldwell County Historical Society's members and other interested community individuals. The Caldwell County Historical Society in turn was organized in 1949 and chartered as a non-profit corporation on July 3, 1950. The purpose as stated in the charter continues as:  “…to investigate and study the history of Caldwell County, provide for collecting of information relevant thereto; protect and display archival documents, records, artifacts; mark and preserve historic sites and buildings; own, lease, operate, or sell real or personal property, publish and sell a history or other works of interest to citizens of Caldwell County.”

            The first president of the historical society was Mrs. W. I. Pitts. One of the first items of business for the group in 1949 was to find a location for a museum.  Although they were initially unsuccessful in that effort, they never stopped trying.  For one thing, Nancy Alexander, who for many years wrote the local history column for the [Lenoir] News-Topic as well as Here Will I Dwell and other material to preserve the history of the county, used her newspaper column from time to time to encourage the formation of a museum in her home county. But mostly the dream lay dormant, sometimes for long periods of time.

"Rear view showing dining hall [on left] and science laboratories." From a late 1920's Davenport College advertising poster.

            On October 17, 1986, Wylmoth Jenkins, then president of the historical society, led a group that went before the Caldwell County School Board and asked for the last remaining Davenport College building that was no longer being used and was scheduled for demolition. The school board agreed to lease the building to the historical society for $1.00 per year. Dr. Jack Church, who was a member of the school board, donated the first $1.00.

            Bill Stronach was the first Heritage Museum Director, and he was assisted in the development of museum plans by George Robbins. After many hours of voluntary labor as well as help from community groups, the museum opened to the public in 1991.  Nancy Alexander, who died in 1990, lived to see the museum beginning to take shape; but many others, like Mrs. Pitts, died before their dream began to be realized.  The museum stands as a memorial to many people, both known and unknown, who worked to see it become a reality. 

            The museum’s space is being utilized for a chronological history of Caldwell County from pre-colonial days until the present, in a series of exhibits.  Among the articles are Native American spears and arrow points, early maps, grants, and deeds.  There is also information and pictures about the formation of Caldwell County, as well as the establishment of the town of Lenoir as the county seat and its development into a railroad terminus and furniture manufacturing center. The museum also has several special interest collections: medical, music, military, and cameras. Several special collections of loaned items are featured for short periods of time each year.

   History by John O. Hawkins.        

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112 Vaiden St. SW 
Lenoir, NC 28645

(828) 758-4004
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