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Historic Rocky Mount to reopen renovated museum

October 17th, 2011 6:10 am by Amanda Marsh

PINEY FLATS — A new modern display of Rocky Mount artifacts doesn’t take away from the simplistic and hardworking ways of the Cobb family, it shows their way of life in vibrant color.

As a four-year renovation edges toward completion, the reopening of the new Rocky Mount Museum is scheduled for Saturday. The 4,000-square-foot area featuring four galleries now has artifactfriendly lighting and cases that will hold interchangeable collections.

“People greatly enjoy being able to touch and see first hand in three dimension what some of the artifacts are and some of the history,” said Gary Walrath, executive director of the Rocky Mount Museum.

A stroll through the remodeled galleries reveal hidden details in handmade quilts and tools that are just as vivid as the eye-popping maps and photos explaining the fascinating and complex history of East Tennessee. The new layout and color design of the space was completed by Troy McCormick of Natural Concepts, an exhibit firm based in Indiana.

Considering there are nearly 6,000 artifacts available to the Rocky Mount Museum, Walrath said much time was needed to decide on the thematic items they wanted to use to touch on both the museum and the historic site, on which the whole experience is based.

When visitors attend Rocky Mount they are transported back to 1791 and introduced to the Cobb family, who were the original inhabitants of the historic home. They’ll see a brand new orientation video that introduces the overall history of the area, followed by a tour of the museum.

“We’re very proud of the renovation job and the artifacts that are displayed,” said Theresa Hayes, secretary of the Rocky Mount Historical Association. “We hope people will come and see this gem in East Tennessee.”

The new and improved museum was made possible by a grant from the Tennessee Historical Commission, through appropriation from the state legislature. The original was built in 1962 and the upgrade will allow the space to continue as a cornerstone for the historic landmark that receives more than 20,000 visitors each year. The largest gallery, displaying DeFriece and Massengil family history, will be dedicated to Frank W. DeFriece, Jr. and Josephine D. Wilson for their efforts in the land purchase and renovation of the Cobb home.

“It (the renovations) cost nearly half a million dollars and we think it’s money well spent and the community is well-served by this,” Hayes said.

The Rocky Mount Historic Site is located at 200 Hyder Hill Road in Piney Flats. The museum will be open to the public beginning Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the annual Spirit of the Harvest festivities complete with blacksmiths, apple butter making and storytelling.

Regular hours for Rocky Mount are Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. until mid-December. Admission for adults is $6, seniors is $5 and children ages 5 to 17 are admitted for $4.

For more information, visit   or call 538-7396.

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