Make a stop at the Chatham County Historical Museum

By " target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener" class="rank-math-link">Cindy Schmidt

Pittsboro, NC – The Chatham County Museum started in what is now the Chatham Historic Courthouse in the circle in downtown Pittsboro. In 1990 the building was renovated and the county commissioners approved the use of a very small room in the southwest corner of the first floor for the Chatham County Historic Association (CCHA) to put in a museum. Cabinets from the tax office were modified to be exhibit cases and volunteers staffed the space Wednesday afternoons and First Sundays. Jane Pyle, the volunteer curator, worked to collect and display Chatham history. 

When the March 25, 2010 fire consumed the attic and roof, and the water caused extensive damage to the Courthouse, the museum artifacts were salvaged.  CCHA volunteers put in hundreds of hours over several weeks to dry out artifacts.

After the fire, the Chatham County Commissioners named a task force of citizens to recommend uses after the rebuilding.  Those recommendations led to the restored Superior Courtroom on the second floor and space for the Museum on the first floor.  CCHA raised about $155,000 from very supportive and enthusiastic businesses and individuals to make the museum a reality.  The plaque on the entrance to the museum names them all.  County residents owe them a debt for their foresight in supporting history.  Design Dimension of Raleigh was hired to design and fabricate the exhibits, but all the information and artifacts came from Chatham sources.  The museum reopened April 20, 2013.

The museum sees about 3,000 visitors a year.  The museum has about nine volunteers and we need more.  Without volunteers the museum can’t open. There is a training program for all new volunteers.

Since the museum’s beginnings in 1990, it has existed on donations of time and money.  The museum and CCHA are non-profit, but that doesn’t mean there are no expenses. The phone, internet, storage, and insurance for the collection are the largest expenses.  You can support history in Chatham by becoming a member at the website.

The museum is open Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 11 am to 4 pm.  Volunteers will take you on a guided tour of the museum and courthouse or leave you to wander at your own pace.  There are tour guides that will arrange tours outside the regular times: call and make a request at 919-542-6222.  The volunteers love to share Chatham history.