The journey to the Earl Scruggs Center – Series Pts 1 and 2

In August 2006, the county commissioners passed the following resolution to support Destination Cleveland County. This was more than a year and 8 months before the commissioners signed a lease to grant the use of the courthouse for the Earl Scruggs Center.

Mary Accor made the motion, seconded by Johnny Hutchins, and unanimously adopted by the Board, to approve the following resolution
a group of private citizens has created an organization known as Destination Cleveland County, for the purpose of encouraging economic development in Cleveland County through the promotion of
the community as a travel destination and the development of visitor attractions; and WHEREAS, the efforts of Destination Cleveland attractions; and WHEREAS, the efforts of Destination Cleveland
County will include projects throughout Cleveland County and will benefit all Cleveland County citizens through the economic impact of tourism dollars and cultural events. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT
RESOLVED that the Cleveland County Board of Commissioners hereby supports the efforts of Destination Cleveland County in promoting our county as a travel destination as well as in the development of visitor

The very idea brought forth by Destination Cleveland County, was the original concept and idea that Jim Allen revealed in his plans for the music heritage museum, to be included at the old courthouse. On April 26, 2003, Jim Allen, former editor of The Shelby Star, announced his intent publicly at the Merry-Go-Round Festival, which he had co-founded. Allen introduced his plans for the Southern Music Heritage Museum, which would include Arthur Smith, Snuffy Jenkins, and many others as well as Don Gibson and Earl Scruggs. He felt that this would give the historical museum a shot in the arm. Jim Allen was the one who started the Cleveland County Historical Association in 1965 that became the Cleveland County Historical Museum, May 8, 1976, and he continued to be the agent. Jim Allen was set on not having to ask the taxpayers to help fund this project. He was determined to make this work by raising the money. Allen also had many people who were loyal to him. His hand picked committee first met in early 2004. In July 2004, a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation was formed for THE NORTH CAROLINA SOUTHERN MUSIC HERITAGE ALLIANCE, INC by County Attorney Bob Yelton. You may view the file here

On February 13, 2005, in Sunday’s paper, Jim Allen introduced his plans to the public in the Star. The article told that The Design Minds from Virginia, created the drawings for the interior for the Southern Music Heritage Museum and they are shown below. The county was on board with this project, as it was the county who paid via check in the amount of $1500. The check was signed by County Manager, David Dear.

Article from Star, 2-13-2005.

During the trips to Nashville to visit with Earl and Louise Scruggs, it became evident that Louise Scruggs, was adamant that the venue would host her husband only. Louise Scruggs was her husband’s manager. Yes, there really was a dust up about this issue of having Don Gibson to be a part of this venue, in spite of all claims to the contrary. Jim Allen said that some of his people became star-struck with Earl Scruggs and he named them – Brownie Plaster, Chamber and Historic Preservation Boards Member; J.T. Scruggs, Earl Scruggs’ nephew; Ted Alexander, Mayor of Shelby; David Dear, County Manager; and Chandler Poole, Director of Uptown Shelby Association.

The committee that Jim Allen had put together, voted to use the old courthouse to honor Earl Scruggs and that Don Gibson would have to be honored in another venue. Even though plans had already been drawn up in regards to the Southern Music Heritage Museum, and how it would honor both Don Gibson and Earl Scruggs, it simply would not be. This group solicited the support of county officials in making the courthouse a venue to honor Earl Scruggs.

In the next installment, we will continue with our journey to the Earl Scruggs Center.