Part one: Plans for Surgoinsville Area Archives and Museum taking shape

The Surgoinsville Area Archive and Museum (SAAM) will be located in the basement of the current Surgoinsville Library, pictured here.

This is part one of a multi-part feature story

Official plans are starting to come together for the planned history and archive museum in Surgoinsville.

The Surgoinsville Area Archive and Museum (SAAM) will be located in the basement of the current Surgoinsville Library.

Though the idea for the museum has been circulating among Surgoinsville residents for many years, the tangible results are just starting to take place. In fact, the museum’s founders got their first look on April 5 at a first draft of the proposed floor plan.

A long time coming

Johnny Greer, who is the former Surgoinsville Mayor and is the current SAAM board of directors chair, told the Review that the idea for an area history museum has been discussed for many years.

“This was something that started back when I was the Mayor (2008-2016),” Johnny Greer said. “It was something that I wanted to do at the time, but I can’t claim credit for the idea. It’s something that a lot of people in our area have wanted to do. I’ve been hearing about it for years. We’re a few years late, but we’re back on it.”

Johnny Greer also noted that the experience brought from both Charles Grow and Betty Fletcher has been invaluable to the project.

“We’ve got a lot of good people behind us,” he said.

Fletcher is the Operations Director at the Greeneville Greene County History Museum. Grow is a Surgoinsville native who formerly served as the curator of the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia. It was Grow who developed the museum’s potential floor plan that will be further discussed in part two of this story.

Museum displays

Though the board is still working to gather antiques and historic material for the exhibits, Greer explained that the board has planned exhibits covering the following topics: Surgoinsville area schools, sports teams, churches, and businesses through the years as well as area Veterans, war history, tobacco industry history, and Native American artifacts.

“We’re also going to try to feature some local musicians—both people who are famous and not so famous,” Johnny Greer said. “Some might just be famous to our little area here.”

Surgoinsville also has an extensive history of area mills, as numerous bodies of water run through the area.

This list of potential exhibits is by no means extensive, though.

“The list just goes on and on with what we’re going to try to do,” Johnny Greer told the Review.

He also noted that area history found within the museum is not limited to Surgoinsville city.

“It (the museum) covers the Surgoinsville area,” he said. “It can be anywhere in the county really. If it fits in some way, we want to display it.”

SAAM also received their official charter as a 501c3 nonprofit organization two years ago.

“Because of that charter, we’re able to receive loans (of artifacts to display in the museum) from other state recognized museums,” SAAM board member Teresa Greer added. “We can move some of those things in and out, and we’ll also be loaning some of our items to other museums.”

SAAM is also working in conjunction with the Smithsonian Museum since they received their charter.

As part of the partnership, Teresa Greer explained that the Smithsonian required SAAM to share how they planned to help in the community with the displays that are on loan from the Smithsonian.

“When I had to answer that question, I explained that we would share them with schools and libraries,” she said.

Johnny Greer noted that SAAM hopes to regularly host class field trips from area schools in the future.

Once the museum is open to the public, the board plans to regularly rotate the exhibits to make room for new things.

“We plan to change things out regularly and try to keep it new if we can so people will come back,” Johnny Greer said.

Stay tuned to the April 16 Weekend edition of the Review for part two of this story.