UNION — The Union County Museum is facing a $30,000 budget shortfall and is hoping a fundraiser at a local restaurant will help it begin to overcome that shortfall without having to cut its operating hours or begin charging admission.
Museum Director Ola Jean Kelly said Tuesday that the fundraiser will be held this Thursday from 5-10 p.m. at El Poblano, 504 N. Duncan Bypass, Union.
A flier advertising the event states that it is “dine in or carry out” and urges the public to “come eat and support the Union County Museum.”
Kelly said that the museum needs the public’s support as the Union County Historical Society, which owns the museum and the historic Cross Keys House, is facing an operating budget shortfall.
“Everybody come out and help us,” Kelly said. “We’ve got a budget shortfall of about $30,000.”
Kelly pointed out that the shortfall is in the museum’s operating budget and if it cannot be covered by fundraisers like that at El Poblano or through other forms of public financial support, the museum will have find other ways to cover it. She said that could include cutting its hours of operation or, for the first time in its history, charging admission.
Beyond affecting the museum’s operating budget, Kelly said the shortfall could also prevent the historical society from carrying out needed projects at the Cross Keys House such as “repointing the bricks” at the main building and installing “inserts for the windows to keep out UV (ultraviolet) rays.”
Kelly said that the museum receives much of its funding from the city and county and “we are very grateful for that.” However, Kelly said that this year, while the city and the county have continued to providing funding for the museum, they have been unable to do so at the level needed.
August And September
In addition to announcing the fundraiser at El Poblano, Kelly also issued the report for the museum for the months of August and September.
Kelly said that in August there were 148 registered visitors to the museum, while in September there were 255 registered visitors.
All visitors to the museum are encouraged to sign the guest register. In addition to signing their names, they are also asked to state where they are from.
In addition to Union County residents who visited the museum in August and September, there were also visitors from other South Carolina communities including Columbia, Cross Anchor, Elloree, Enoree, Florence, Greenville, Greenwood, Irmo, Lexington, Mauldin, Moore, Newberry, Pageland, Pauline, Piedmont, Rock Hill, Roebuck, Simpsonville, Spartanburg, Taylors, West Columbia, Whitmire and Woodruff.
August and September also saw visitors to the museum from other states including California, Washington, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia, Wyoming, North Carolina, Texas and Indiana.
Learning About The Museum
Visitors are asked how they found out about the museum and these were among the responses given in August and September:
• Word of mouth
• Higher education project (Virginia)
• Sign on the road
• Uniquely Union Festival
Visitors are also asked to write comments about their experience at the museum and of all those who have none of them have ever written anything negative. August and September were no different as these comments demonstrate:
• Love it (Lexington SC)
• So much info (Greenville SC)
• Very interesting (Roebuck SC)
• Great people here (NC)
• Awesome place (W. Columbia)
• Great museum (Chapin)
The main floor of the museum is composed of display areas, archives, and gift shop. The basement floor of the museum has its meeting room which in August and September were used for meetings by the Department of Social Services, Union County Clemson Club and the Union Music Club.
There were also special tours of the museum including by Union Services and USC-Upstate.
Kelly said the USC Upstate group “were largely descendants of a commander of one of the military units stationed in Union and Spartanburg during Reconstruction. The visit was a part of a special three day event at the university. They spent almost two hours in the museum and then we walked over to the 1823 Robert Mills Jail where Robbie Hines was most helpful in showing the group around.”
Cross Keys House
The Cross Keys House was the site of a visit in 1865 by Confederate President Jefferson Davis and members of his cabinet and the military unit guarding them. The property’s historic nature has made it a popular destination for historic buffs and other tourists. It has also been a popular location for special events such as weddings.
Kelly said that during August and September, the Cross Keys House continued to draw good numbers of visitors every Saturday. She said that a wedding was also held there.
“Plans are being discussed about events this fall,” Kelly said. “By making a charge for these events we hope to make up some of the deficit in our funding. The dates will be coordinated with Rose Hill and we can always use volunteers. Call 429-5081 to sign up.”
For more information about the Union County Museum call 864-429-5081.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or firstname.lastname@example.org.