Thursday, July 24, 2008

Quick hits: One museum sees dwindling numbers, while another is running out of space

10 years after fire to Wolfe house, visitors dwindle
"Any other old home so badly damaged by fire would have been razed.

"Early on the morning of July 24, 1998," writes the Asheville Citizen-Times, "an arsonist broke a window in the dining room of the Thomas Wolfe House, a wood frame home memorialized in the author’s autobiographical 1929 novel 'Look Homeward, Angel.' The person started a fire that smoldered for an hour or so, then erupted into a conflagration.At 3:07 a.m., a call to 911 sent more than 25 firefighters to the house on Spruce Street, and they found flames shooting through the crumbling slate roof of the rambling, 29-room home.

"Built in 1883 and significantly expanded in 1916, the house was the boyhood home of the famous American author from 1906-16 and a tourist draw that brought in 30,000 visitors annually.

"And it was burning down.

" 'I would say in another five-eight minutes we would’ve lost that house,' said Tommy Brooks, a division chief with Asheville Fire and Rescue and a captain at the time of the fire 10 years ago this week.

"Firefighters saved most of the structure and 85 percent of the artifacts, though, and after an extensive renovation, the site reopened in 2004. But visitation has never returned to pre-fire levels, and state officials and site workers struggle to explain why. ..."

A museum loaded with N.C. history
"Walk into the North Carolina Baseball Museum, and you wonder where to begin," writes the News & Observer's A.J. Carr.

"The 3,200 square-foot space inside Fleming Stadium is stocked with about 4,000 items, from a 1893 Eastern League scorebook to an autographed bat by Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton.
"Since the facility opened in 2004, an estimated 30,000 visitors from 45 states have perused the montage of pictures, pennants, gloves, bats, hats and other memorabilia.

"Organizers say it's running out of space, while still seeking more memorabilia. A campaign is getting under way to raise $200,000 to add more room. ..."

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