Open house Saturday for Kannapolis history room

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 17, 2011

New space means more exhibits
By Hugh Fisher
KANNAPOLIS — On the walls of Rotary Hall, at 211 West Ave., the years of history fall away and the heyday of Cannon Mills returns.
Decades of advertisements, a 12-foot-long photo from the textile giant’s main offices and photos of Kannapolis in its boom days are all once more on public view.
Saturday, a celebration and open house at Rotary Hall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. will celebrate Kannapolis History Associates’ official reopening of the Hinson History Room.
Since 1987, Kannapolis History Associates has collected and preserved historical records and artifacts from Cannon Mills, as well as local churches and organizations.
Its collections include newspaper archives, photos and an extensive genealogical library.
Phil Goodman, president of Kannapolis History Associates, said the group itself was “born out of necessity,” back when the former Kannapolis YMCA downtown was being demolished.
At first, items were stored in volunteers’ homes and in space donated by merchants.
Then, in 1992, a history room was opened at the Kannapolis branch library.
For the next 18 years, that space became a destination for historians and genealogists, Goodman said.
Then, last year, the library decided to turn the history room into a meeting space.
Goodman said that Cabarrus County Public Library staff had gone “above and beyond” in making the transition smooth.
Still, he said, the lack of a space to display the group’s collections was difficult.
“It created a lot of shock, for lack of a better word, fear and uncertainty,” Goodman said.
Meanwhile, the Kannapolis Rotary Club had moved into the former Brass Exchange store on West Avenue.
When Tom Kincaid, past Rotary president and city councilman, heard of the need for a new history room, he took the matter to his members.
Talks between the two groups led to an agreement to share the space.
Towels, photos, furniture and other memorabilia formerly on display at the defunct Cannon Village Visitor’s Center now fill one entire wall of Rotary Hall.
A separate and secure room in the rear of the hall houses the group’s archives and library.
Having the photos and memorabilia visible during meetings and private functions makes the city’s heritage visible to all, Kincaid said.
“It’s such a great opportunity for Rotary and the Kannapolis History Associates to join forces for the good of Kannapolis,” Kincaid said.
Norris Dearmon, local historian, said the new space gives the public a chance to see more photos and memorabilia than would otherwise have been possible.
Volunteers once more have large tables, bookshelves and room for rows of cabinets in which are housed everything from a microfilm archive to plaques and awards given to Charles A. Cannon.
“We have all of the Cannon News, the monthlies that came out during World War II,” Dearmon said.
Also on the shelves are yearbooks from Central High, which was later renamed Cannon High School and finally A.L. Brown High School.
Already, school groups are booking dates to visit the Hinson History Room, named in honor of local benefactors Foy and Gertrude Hinson.
Volunteer Larry Hayer said a computer purchased with funds from the Hinson trust would soon allow him to digitally process historic photos.
The Hinson History Room in Rotary Hall will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Tuesday and Sunday.
Kannapolis History Associates is also seeking committed volunteers and donations of any Kannapolis memorabilia, especially church and civic group records and Cannon Mills artifacts.
For more information, call 704-963-9240.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.