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Volume 26, Number 4 — April 2019

Renovation Begins On BCMA Cultural Heritage Center Building

Interior demolition work has begun on the proposed Birthplace of Country Music Cultural Heritage Center. (Photo by Andre Teague | Bristol Herald Courier)
Interior demolition work has begun on the proposed Birthplace of Country Music Cultural Heritage Center. (Photo by Andre Teague | Bristol Herald Courier)

By David McGee | Bristol Herald Courier | August 07, 2008

*** This story was published Aug. 7, 2008 in the Bristol Herald Courier. ***

BRISTOL, Va. ? Nearly four years after taking possession of the downtown building, interior demolition work began this week on the proposed Birthplace of Country Music cultural heritage center.

Workers from Taff & Frye are ripping out all non-structural interior walls and cleaning up the aftermath, project architect Peyton Boyd said on Wednesday.

The Birthplace of Country Music Alliance, a Bristol-based nonprofit, is currently trying to raise more than $12 million to renovate the building at 520 Cumberland St. into a state-of-the-art music heritage center. The former auto dealership was donated in September 2004.

"This phase will occur in three parts. The first is demolition where all that will be left is structural columns and beams and exterior walls," Boyd said. "The second is the cleanup and the third will be to get surveyors in here to get accurate dimensions of the floor and walls for exhibits."

Such dimensions are necessary for the development of exhibits that will be created elsewhere, shipped to Bristol and installed, Boyd said.

Replacing the existing roof with a rubber membrane covering, installing insulation and roof drainage and securing the building from invading birds are all part of the initial plan, he said.

Before the demolition could begin, a small amount of asbestos floor tile was safely removed last week, Boyd said.

This "preliminary" phase is being paid for by a $297,000 grant from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, said BCMA Executive Director Bill Hartley.

"These improvements will allow the organization to move toward starting construction activities in 2009," Hartley said.

The work also is contingent on the alliance's ability to raise enough money.

"The [fundraising] process is ongoing, although sometimes it's slower than we want," said fundraising campaign Chairman Kevin Triplett. "But every person we've talked to or made presentations to has deemed this project worthy for this town and this area."

Initially, BCMA is trying to raise about $3.5 million, with plans to use the money to access grants and other funding sources. They had hoped to complete initial fundraising by year's end, Triplett said.

"Our goal is still the end of this year, but it may be a bit slower," he said.

To date, the organization has raised about $1 million, Triplett said.

He acknowledged that current economic concerns are affecting fundraising efforts.

"It certainly is not the easiest time to be out asking for money," he said.

The renovation process is expected to be accomplished as money is available.

"It will go in spurts," Triplett said, "It's a lot like a house. You're all excited when the framing goes up, then it seems like not much gets done for awhile. This probably will be the same."

The organization opted to spend the recent allocation now, rather than wait a year when the work is likely to cost more, he said.