"It has been a long time coming," Gaines said. "We're all very excited to see it finally coming together as far as the exhibits and the use of the space and to be able to reach this point in our fundraising to be able to open this new chapter. It's been a dream for a long time. So just to see it coming to life, it's just exciting for all of us. ... Right now what's happening is the carpenters are wrapping up the exhibit platforms and walls and putting the finishing touches on the exhibits as far as painting and staining and building go.
"We've begun moving some of the bigger items, bigger artifacts, into the space, but we have not yet begun to put all the exhibit touches in, the smaller artifacts and the photographs and things like that, but expect to start doing that next week."
Serving as Bartow's courthouse from 1869 to 1902, the two-story brick building was utilized for a variety of purposes in the 1900s, some of which include a roller skating rink, furniture store and warehouse. Sitting vacant since the 1980s, the building under the Church Street Bridge was acquired by the city of Cartersville in 1995 and was renovated with $1.7 million in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds.
Once open, the old courthouse will house the BHM's gift shop, multi-purpose room and permanent and temporary exhibits. Divided into six galleries, the permanent exhibits will include "A Sense of Place," "Bartow Beginnings," "Community Champions," "People at Work," "The Coming War" and "Toward New Horizons." The nonprofit's staff offices and archives department will remain nearby on the second floor of its current building, 13 N. Wall St. in Cartersville. The BHM closed its exhibit space at the North Wall Street location July 1 to start making preparations for the move.
Even though the museum is debuting its new site Dec. 10, the BHM is holding a Grand Opening Celebration Dec. 4, 6 to 10 p.m., which will be hosted by the Capital Campaign Leadership Committee -- Marijon Battles, Elizabeth Harris, Cherry Gladden and Dianne Tate. Along with giving supporters an advanced viewing of the museum's exhibits, the event will serve as a BHM fundraiser, with proceeds going toward expenses ranging from developing programming to moving and installing existing or new exhibits.
Tickets to the Grand Opening Celebration are $50 per person and can be purchased by calling 770-387-2774 or visiting the BHM gift shop, which is still open at the North Wall Street site. Along with tours of the museum, the benefit also is going to include hors d'oeuvres and an open bar.
"We ran a capital campaign for about nine months," said Tom Roberson, director of development for BHM. "We actually had a goal of $500,000 to get the museum in place, for the exhibits and to do everything to get it up and running. We were able to raise over $250,000 in this economy. We're not too terribly disappointed with that but obviously it wasn't the full amount we needed.
"So we have ended the official capital campaign. What we're doing [now] though [is] we felt like with the opening and taking advantage of the excitement of museum coming online that this gave us another opportunity to do a fundraiser and then try to raise a few more dollars toward our initial goal for keeping the museum open and running."
Along with attending the Grand Opening Celebration, BHM supporters also can make a donation by contacting Gaines at the BHM at 770-382-3818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We've had a great response from the community in our efforts to raise the money necessary to build our new exhibits and develop some new programming and to basically move the museum into the building and start our operation there," Gaines said. "It's been a very good response. I want to thank all those in the community that have supported us so far over the last couple of years in our campaign. We couldn't have done it without them."