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Big plans ahead for Glencoe’s Textile Heritage Museum

November 18, 2018

GLENCOE, N.C. (AP) — Things don’t look much different at the Textile Heritage Museum, but there are changes in the works.

“The idea is next year to open the museum up on more of a full-time basis,” said John Guss, Historic Properties Superintendent with the county Recreation and Parks Department, “five or six days a week and eight hours a day.”

The museum is still a nonprofit corporation, which can always use public support, but now it is working with the county to get more visitors and a higher profile.

“The hope is to make this a museum for the state of North Carolina on the textile industry,” Guss said. “Because Alamance was basically king — people forget that.”

The state doesn’t have many museums to industries — lots of farms and battlefields, Guss said, but the industry that transformed the state through the 19th and 20th centuries has gotten short shrift, which is an opportunity for the Textile Heritage Museum.

The museum has been a labor of love since George and Jerolene “Jerrie” Nall, Sam Powell and Kathy Barry founded it in 2001. They got the old Glencoe company store restored and have run the museum — open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday — with a dozen or so volunteers ever since, but nobody gets younger.

“They’re looking to pass this on to the next generation,” Guss said.

About 2,000 visitors come to the museum per year, but Guss said he hopes to triple that in the next few years as they expand the museum’s hours.

“The hope is to combine (the county department and nonprofit) and build them up and get some more people in the doors,” Guss said.

It’s only been a month and a half since Guss started working with the museum, which is just part of the job. The northern office of the county Recreation and Parks Department has been moved from Pleasant Grove to the old Glencoe machine shop next door, which Guss said is closer to most of the county facilities as well as the museum. It will also be like a small visitors’ center with maps of the county’s parks and trails and other information.

While he is not an expert on the textile industry, Guss does have a background in historic preservation. He also grew up in Alamance County — his father even worked at Burlington Industries, and Jerrie Nall was his 9th grade teacher at Sellars Gunn.

“There’s a lot to learn,” Guss said.

“I’m taking baby steps.”

Down the road, Guss said, he sees expanded exhibits, multi-media exhibits and collecting the stories from the people who worked in the mills and lived in the mill villages. Glencoe alone was in business for 75 years and there was always more going on than just making fabric.

“Certainly there’s got to be lots of stories,” Guss said.

The Textile Heritage Museum is at 2406 Glencoe St. in Burlington. For more details, call 336-260-0038, visit http://www2.textileheritagemuseum.org/ or Textile Heritage Museum on Facebook.

Reporter Isaac Groves can be reached at igroves@thetimesnews.com or 336-506-3045. Follow him on Twitter at @tnigroves.

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Information from: Times-News, http://www.thetimesnews.com

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