McDONOUGH— The city of McDonough is looking to bring history to life through the conversion of the former Henry County courthouse on the McDonough Square into an interactive museum.
Over the last several years, the McDonough City Council has been discussing plans for uses of the vacant Polk Courthouse Annex, located at the corner of John Frank Ward Boulevard and Lawrenceville Street.
In the 1940s when the building was constructed, it served as a post office, and later served as Henry County’s juvenile court.
The building currently houses a historic mural, the “Cotton Gin,” created by modernist artist Louis Henri Jean Charlot as part of the recovery process after the Great Depression. The mural has been inside the Polk building since it was installed in 1942 and is one of 200,000 government-commissioned works which were funded under the “Federal Art Project” during the Great Depression era, according to city documents.
McDonough officials approved the building and painting’s rehab in the city’s FY 2017 budget, which began July 1. City Administrator Keith Dickerson said approximately $750,000 of the city’s SPLOST IV funds will be used toward the project.
Dickerson said the city plans to turn it into a museum that displays artwork and the history of the city of McDonough.
Museum Planning, LLC designed the concept of the city’s soon-to-be museum. Their plans call for interactive exhibits that include a digital artifacts table, touch screen monitors, historic photos, videos, holograms and artwork.
In addition, there are plans for a children’s area where young visitors will be able to relive the days of the building’s use as a post office playing dress up and sorting mail in historic mail equipment.
The building will also have Wi-Fi and a coffee area for visitors to use computers. Its basement will likely be used for meeting, office and storage space.
The city is aiming to have the museum completed by November. Dickerson said the goal is to have the city’s Downtown Development Authority operate the museum on donations received by those who visit the facility.
Councilwoman Sandra Vincent, who hosted a meeting Thursday regarding the museum, said there will be opportunities in the upcoming months for McDonough citizens to give input and share their stories of the city of McDonough.
“It was extremely important to me to ensure that our stories were representative of all of McDonough’s History,” said Vincent. “During this meeting, several ministers and African American seniors of McDonough, who grew up here, came together to share their stories. This was one of the most powerful moments that I have experienced. There was so much energy, joy, and appreciation in the room at the thought of having these moments memorialized in such a way that generations to come can share.”