The Cumberland Homesteads Tower Museum will get a new roof, thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Tennessee State Museum.
Museum Manager Ren Sexton said the roof has been susceptible to leaks over the past few years, but the museum did not have the funds to replace it. Sexton said that like all old historical buildings, the problem will only worsen if it is not addressed. Sexton said the museum is pivotal in telling the story of the region’s New Deal Era which made Cumberland County what it is today.
“The most important thing with history is that you can’t really forget it,” Sexton said. “It’s one of the few buildings that keeps the history of this very niche part of history and why the community was built in the first place.”
Sexton said funding like this is even more important given that this is not just any renovation project. Sexton said to maintain the status as a registered historical building, specific materials and building methods have to be used. This eliminates the option of finding the cheapest route. Sexton said the project is scheduled to be finished before July, 2024.
“A lot of museums, especially smaller museums, this entire grant for many people has affected them a lot because it’s really hard to gather that much money, especially with the rising costs and inflation these days,” Sexton said.
Sexton said if there is money left over, some deteriorating windows will be next on the list of potential projects. Sexton said since much of the building is wood, the wooden exterior of some windows has begun to rot over time.
“There have been rain leaks that we’ve had to fix, and if it just isn’t completely redone, it’s just going to continuously get worse over time,” Sexton said.
Funding a project as large as this one is next to impossible for a non-profit, Sexton said. Just paying the few employees and paying bills can be a financial stress for an organization this small, she said.
The tower features a 55,000-gallon water tank and stands eight stories high. Sexton said the building functioned as administration offices for the Cumberland Homestead Project during the county’s New Deal Era during the mid-1900s. Having an adequate space to tell the story of the community’s origin is vital, and this grant will give the museum the chance to continue sharing that treasured story, Sexton said.