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Historic Asheboro courthouse being turned into new museum

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ASHEBORO, N.C. -- County officials are planning to add a Randolph County museum inside of the more than 100-year-old historic courthouse on Worth Street.

The offices on the main floor are relocating, making room for the dozens of artifacts collected that show Randolph County's history and journey to the present day.

It's a way to remember the past as the city and the county move into the next decade.

"Local history collections never get smaller. They only get larger," said Ross Holt, the Randolph County Library Director. "[This is] the courthouse bell from 1839, and [the creator's] father was trained in the trade of bell-making by Paul Revere."

Walking into the historic courthouse, history greets you at the front door.

"We can put together exhibits that tell Randolph County's story and let people know how the artifacts tie into the historical story," Holt said.

He says the now almost empty space on the first floor will be transformed into the county's first historical museum.

"To have artifacts like this in addition to interpretive information, to let people know and let people get up close with it, we think is very important," Holt said.

The future museum will showcase all of the collected pieces of the county's past.

"The confederate monument [outside of the courthouse] was established in 1911," Holt said. "We have a whole story to tell about that era. We were a stop on the underground railroad. We have a rich story to tell. A museum can help put all of that into context."

It'll go hand-in-hand with an expanding "Randolph Room" in the old administration building just feet away.

The artifact, record and genealogy room is currently overflowing at the public library.

"The Randolph Room itself is a draw for visitors from outside of the county," Holt said. "A museum would just kind of exponentially add to that."

He tells FOX8 that over the past two years, people from 32 different states have come to look at their collections.

He, and others in Asheboro, are hoping the museum will draw in more people from near and far.

"I think a lot of it has to do with the revitalization we are doing. People are starting to wonder more of the background of what it had been since they see what it's becoming," said Mary Murkin.

Murkin owns the Brightside Gallery and Carriage House Tea shop just across the street from the old courthouse.

She believes that when new things come along, people want to reflect on the past.

"We need [this museum]. We do not have a museum for Randolph County," Murkin said. "For as large as this county is, and as historical as this county is, many of us felt this is what we needed."

While Murkin is excited about the increased foot traffic and impact on her business, she also just wants people to understand how special her home is.

"What a wonderful town we have. What a wonderful county we have," Murkin said. "We'd like to share it with them."

Officials are still in the very beginning stages of this process.

They hope to have estimated costs for renovations and operations in the next few months.

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