Moton Museum Gets PE Help In Proposed County Budget

May 23, 2003

Story by Rob Chapman of the Farmville Herald

PRINCE EDWARD – County supervisors are likely to approve their overall budget in June which would essentially provide a double portion for the Moton Museum.

“We’re actually giving them two years’ donation in one year,” explained County Administrator Mildred Hampton, “So that they can match some grant funds.”

The Moton Museum was awarded a federal Save America’s Treasures Grant (through the National Park Service) last year which will match dollar for dollar up to $200,000. A $50,000 County contribution this year essentially translates into a gain of $25,000 in grant funds for the museum.

The Moton Museum has until December 31 to raise the $200,000 to maximize the grant, according to Museum President Carl U. Eggleston.

“…We’re doing all we can to make it all happen and…not for the government to walk away with some of the money back,” he explained this week. “…We’re trying to use the whole $200,000.”

Eggleston is pleased that the county has apparently agreed with the Museum’s budget request. While the county hasn’t taken similar action in the past, Mrs. Hampton commented, “I think we’d do it for anybody that was in that situation.”

Currently, the museum has about $122,000 towards the $200,000 they need to raise, Eggleston said. The additional $25,000 in the budget will get them that much closer to their goal, but are still about $53,000 short of their December target.

The funding–if they’re able to raise the full $400,000 grant and matching funds–would go toward improvements to the structure. The museum board has advertised for bids to replace the tin roof on the building which–while it has been patched–still leaks. That’s estimated to cost about $70,000. In addition, Eggleston said they are also hoping to use the monies to install a heating and cooling system, which is expected to cost $125,000-$130,000.

The Moton Museum, located at the intersection of Main Street and Griffin Boulevard in Farmville, is significant in the Civil Rights movement. Black students held a peaceful strike on April 23, 1951 against separate and unequal conditions. The events of that day would lead to Prince Edward becoming a part of the Supreme Court’s historic Brown v. Board decision in 1954 against segregation in public schools.

In its historical context, the student-led walkout was also more than four years before Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of a Montgomery, Alabama bus.

The building was retired as a school in the Prince Edward County system in the early 1990s and was placed on the national historic register in 1998.

Eggleston detailed that the structure is an old building and that their theory is to work on the outer structure first and work to the inside with improvements.

There are other issues, which he also highlighted, including reworking or replacing windows and doors, re-sanding and varnishing the floors and repainting the interior.

“…It’s a lot to be done,” Eggleston said.

Still the building can be very functional with the planned improvements and they’re dealing with the most urgent issues first–with the roof, then the climate control. The next issue would possibly be the windows.

In the meantime, the museum is open its regularly scheduled hours serving as an national attraction.

With its national historical landmark designation, there are certain restrictions on the extent of renovation work to leave the structure basically unchanged. The roof, for example, is planned to be replaced by another tin roof.