FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — On June 2, organizers will break ground on the latest phase of the North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center.
The $80 million center will be built near downtown Fayetteville. Organizers said the center will be interactive and tell thousands of engaging stories, all surrounding a very dark period in U.S. history. National scholars and historians from across the country will gather the stories.
There were two other groundbreakings for different phases of this project in 2018 and 2021. This happened after some people in the community raised concerns about the facility. Some said the center is a disguise for a confederate museum. However, those behind the center say that’s not the case.
“It’s very disconcerting when we hear as we have heard that we are going to develop for example a confederate museum, which we have no intention whatsoever of doing,” said Mary Lynn Bryan of the center’s board of directors.
Bryan said at the beginning of the project, a private donor offered money to build the center if they would put all the confederate statues inside it. The group behind NC Civil War & Reconstruction History Center turned down the offer.
The board said during a news conference on Tuesday that there would be no statues of any kind inside the new facility. Organizers said if any flags fly at the facility, it would be the state flag of North Carolina and the U.S. flag.
An economic impact study showed the facility could generate as much as $18 million a year and would create up to 200 permanent jobs.
Those who are spearheading the project plan to turn the center over to the state to operate. State lawmakers have already earmarked at least $50 million to build this center.
Both the City of Fayetteville and Cumberland County have committed $7.5 million each. Organizers are relying on private donors for the rest of the money.
“No other history center we found in the country is going to focus on this period of reconstruction like we are. Everybody (is) afraid to tell that story… we are not,” said John Mac Healy of the center’s board of directors.
The board says this facility won’t only be a tourist attraction in Fayetteville but also become part of the state’s education curriculum.
“We owe it to the next generation, we are not going to solve problems, but we are going to educate people on why his background is different than her background,” Healy said.
No timetable on when this project could be completed was given by the board of directors.
For more on the North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center, visit nccivilwarcenter.org.