The Canton Area Historical Museum was approved during a meeting of the North Carolina Museums Council and North Carolina Preservation Consortium Joint Disaster Grant Committee on October 6th to receive a $1000 disaster relief grant.
The remnants of Tropical Storm Fred brought devastating floods to Western North Carolina earlier this year on August 16th and 17th. Haywood County officials and Governor Cooper’s office quickly declared a state of emergency, and in early September the White House and FEMA granted the state’s request for a major disaster declaration for several counties including Haywood. A section of downtown Canton experienced flash flooding including the museum that is in a former library building next to town hall. The lower basement level of the museum where some exhibits and artifacts were on display was severely damaged by the flood waters. The museum also lost power and is still in the process of having electrical service restored. In the meantime, a mobile generator was brought onsite to run fans and dehumidifiers to help dry the basement and keep mold from becoming an issue on the first floor where most of the museum’s collections and exhibits are housed.
Within a day of the flooding the museum’s curator, Caroline Ponton, contacted staff at the Western Office of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) in Asheville for assistance. Since then, several members of the Cultural Resources Emergency Support Team (CREST) have visited the site to assist the curator and volunteers with artifact damage assessment and recovery efforts. Grant funds will be used to purchase artifact storage containers, supplies and other materials. A dehumidifier will also be purchased for use at a temporary off-site storage location, and later brought to the museum to help with environmental control there once all items return.
The Canton Area Historical Museum contains artifacts, photographs and historical documents related to the history various Haywood County communities such as Canton, Bethel, and Cruso. There’s also a large collection of photographs and memorabilia of the area’s primary industry, the Champion Paper Mill, which is now Evergreen Packaging.