Group Working To Put History Museum In Building City Is Set To Surplus

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

A citizens group is working to set up a local history museum in a building the city is set to surplus.

The building is the old Water Company building at the corner of 10th and Lindsay. It has been occupied by City Auditor Stan Sewell and by many other city offices previously.

Here is the proposal:

What is a Maker Center? The Framework

“The Chattanooga Maker Center uses education to interpret Chattanooga’s
industrial history through the narrative of its culturally diverse workforce.


The Museum of Industry (Exhibit space)

? A presentation of permanent and temporary exhibits illustrating the history of
Chattanooga manufacturing and business. Spotlighting stories from the reflections of an
everyday multicultural workforce — the people who made Chattanooga.
The Legacy Workforce Project

? An aggressive StoryCorps® effort to document first-hand experiences (An accessible
online archive of video and audio interviews)
Legacy Forward (Education)

? Classroom, on-site, and virtual year-round education and mentoring programs that use
history as a tool to inspire local young people and connect with local entrepreneurs and

? Our accessibility promise is that every student in the Chattanooga Public School System
will be provided an unlimited free pass to the museum. This pledge ensures that every
young person regardless of economic 

Public History Makers

? A quarterly micro-grant awarded to encourage a variety of public history projects
throughout Chattanooga.

An Annual Historic Unconference

? Modeled after the Baltimore Historic Unconference at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.
“Unconferences are events run by participants. Attendees set the agenda for what’s
discussed, lead the sessions and workshops that fill the schedule, and create an
environment of innovation and productive discussion.”

Community Events and Fundraisers

? Annual and special events that connect with the public, build awareness and raises
funds for Center activities.

Online Archive and Crowdsourcing

? An accessible repository for all collections.

Why is a Maker Center important?

? It’ll significantly expand and make accessible an inclusive and diverse narrative to grow
Chattanooga’s historical footprint.

? Chattanooga’s narrative has mostly put emphasis on its local pioneers,
politicians, business influencers, and the Civil War timeline.

? (Oral histories) We’re losing important first-hand stories about Chattanooga’s industrial

? Creates respectful conversations that will positively affect the future of Chattanooga’s
ever-changing and evolving story.

? Exposes local history directly to a young audience.

? Economic impact. Museums in Tennessee contribute $954m into the local economy
(Oxford Economics, IMPLAN, 2017). And generates $204.8m in taxes ($55.5m local
taxes). Regardless of political persuasion, 89% of Americans believe that museums
provide important economic impacts back to their communities. (AAM's Museums &
Public Opinion 2017)

Actionable items:

Soliciting support and building confidence: The Endorsement Trust

The City’s cooperation is a necessary endorsement to regain confidence in a new local
history effort. The Maker Center has been carefully planned to avoid having to initially solicit a
donor base that was exhausted by the Chattanooga History Center. Our spotlight is on industry
and we hope to tap a corporate base first. Our model emphasizes program heavy activities like
education, digital collections, and outreach, with a permanent exhibit space at the tail end of our

Businesses and influencers

It’s critical that we find endorsements from local business and influencers at the very top, down.
We need a dedicated team to champion for endorsements. This includes soliciting e.g., the
Chamber of Commerce, Chattanooga CVB, the City of Chattanooga, Hamilton County,
Volkswagen, EPB, TVA, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Erlanger, McKee, Unum, Amazon. Just as
important, we need public support from smaller businesses as well. Also, soft commitments
from local entrepreneurs willing to consider taking an active part in our educational programs.
In addition, we need support from schools, UTC, Chattanooga State, and other local and state

We are not initially soliciting for money, but asking for general support from those who see value
in an industry museum downtown.

Suggested location:

The Purse Printing Building 1001 Lindsay Street — Corner of Lindsay and E. 10th

? Owned by the City of Chattanooga
? 2 stories with basement
? 8,500 sq. ft.
? Built in 1911
? Current building tax assessment: $262k
? Soon to be a surplused property

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