The Birthplace of Country Music has been awarded a total of $1,050,000 in grant funding from a number of sources that will help the nonprofit organization move forward on an expansion project for the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, located in historic downtown Bristol, Virginia.
The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission approved $500,000 for the BCM expansion as part of its mission to generate economic growth in agriculture and tourism sectors and attract new businesses to Southwest Virginia.
“The funding from the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission will enable us to move forward on applying for historic and new market tax credits,” said Leah Ross, executive director of advancement for BCM. “Grant funding and tax credits ensures we’ll be able to open with zero debt.”
In December of last year the United States Congress signed the FY 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act into law. This omnibus included $500,000 of Community Project Funding to assist BCM with the building project.
BCM was also awarded $50,000 from the Genan Foundation, a private philanthropical foundation created in 1987 by the late Anne and Gene Worrell, who owned and operated Worrell Newspapers. The company started in Bristol and eventually purchased the Bristol Herald Courier, then expanded to include more than 30 papers across the country.
The former Automotive Service & Supply building, located next door the museum, was donated to BCM in 2014 by local businessman Joseph R. Gregory and his wife Cindy. The Gregorys purchased the building from Cecil R. Hopkins Jr. and his wife, Angela. Hopkins’ father founded the United Motor Services parts franchise at that location in 1935.
According to Bristol, Virginia, tax records, the two-story, 7,800 foot structure, now referred to as the Annex, was constructed in 1881. The application form for downtown’s inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places indicates it was built circa 1900 and used as a grain, feed, fertilizer and cement warehouse. Hopkins confirmed the building later housed the Bristol Motor Company Buick dealership.
BCM plans for the building include a new special exhibit area and climate-controlled archival storage, in addition to adding offices, restrooms and event space. Some work has already been done to shore up the building’s structure and dig an elevator shaft. Once historic and new market tax credits are secured, renovations can begin. The project is expected to take 18 to 24 months to complete once construction starts. The $3.6 million renovation will increase the museum’s size to 41,000 square feet.
For more information about BCM and the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, visit BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org.