Local groups supporting renovation of the historic Sidna Allen House in Fancy Gap believe making a big change is as simple as gathering together all the loose change.
Courthouse Productions Producer Shelby Puckett, local author Ron Hall, and Friends of the Allen House member Kay Cox recently teamed up at the property to discuss ongoing fundraising efforts.
Pucket, who has produced productions about the 1912 Courthouse Tragedy including “Thunder in the Hills,” said a tentative date for the return of Thunder is planned for the Spring of 2o19. Friends of the Allen House have a raffle and special artwork sale in process, and proceeds from the sale of Hall’s book, “The Carroll County Courthouse Tragedy,” also go toward renovation.
“Anyone wanting to know about ticket sales may contact the Carroll County Historical Society and Museum,” said Puckett. “The reason we’re working so hard with this is we want the house fixed because it is such a part of our history. We feel the tourism posibilities are enourmous. If you can do a package deal for tourists visiting Carroll with this house and the courthouse it would be popular.”
She and Cox said the play is always looking to add more “citizen actors” and will probably hold open auditions to fill slots for cast and crew (the show has a complement of 33 people – counting cast and crew.) They said Thunder, which has been peformed for three seasons, and “Sidna’s Dream” have raised more than $40,000. Friends of Hillsville have also been a presence at The Cherry Orchard Theatre, including concessions with the proceeds going toward the home’s restoration.
The Theater’s 20th season at “Go Tell It On The Mountain” was held August 17-19 with concessions being used to help fund renovation. The show is in cooperation with the Mount Airy group “Hope For The City,” which has set a goal of improving race relations in the area. Carroll County’s Shelby Puckett was featured on the Sunday event with Mt. Airy’s Dr. Evelyn Thompson.
“We’re money raising for the same cause. What we do at the courthouse is based on Ron’s book. We want to thank people for their support. We need everybody who walks by to be so happy about something finally being done for the house to put in a dollar or two,” said Puckett. “People may feel bad putting in just a dollar but they don’t realize that’s the point. Our slogan is a little change here for a big change at the Allen House.”
This “loose change” effort by the Friends of the J. Sidna Allen House is a campaign with a goal of raising $2,000. People are encouraged to bring any loose change to the Carrol County Historical Museum Tuesday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or find the Friends booth at local events including the Hillsville Summer Nights Concert & Classical Car Cruise-Ins, Houstonfest and the Hillsville Farmer’s Market on Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Cox said the crowds at the upcoming Labor Day Flea market alone, with a minimum of effort, could finance the current restoration efforts if everyone contributed a little.
“That’s the whole point of our loose change campaign.” Puckett said. “We really want to get the word out we do tours at the Courthouse. We’ll take a tour group no matter what size they are.”
She said people may obtain more information at email@example.com or contact the museum at 276-728-4113 or firstname.lastname@example.org and the County Museum is located at 515 N Main Steet in Hillsville. Its phone number is (276) 728-4113.
“One of the biggest things the group is doing this year for tours is members of Courthouse Productions participating in costume and in character. They are helping to tell the story. At the latest one, they pretty much told the entire story,” said Puckett. “These tours have been a good way to raise money for us.”
She said one raffle is for a handcrafted quilt on display at the Museum and the other fundraiser is the sale of special Allen House print by world-renowned artist P. Buckley Moss (Moss will be available to sign copies of her new print, The Sidna Allen House, on August 25 from 12-2 p.m. at the Historic Carroll County Courthouse). The Sidna Allen House print is available in two sizes – small (7.5-inches by 14.75-inches for $95) and large (13.25-inches by 25.75-inches for $285). A portion of the proceeds will go toward the restoration of the historic home in Fancy Gap.
“Amazingly there’s a lot of interest in this thing. I don’t know why as many times as this has been done, talked about and written about,” Hall said. “Everytime we announce the presentations we do, we overflow the courthouse. I guess it’s probably the element of the old west, but I’m not sure.”
Puckett says there have been a lot of repeat customers to see the plays with some telling her they have been at every performance.
”People just can’t get enough,” said Puckett. “I can’t tell you how many people I wrote down the Museum number for in the Air Stream (owners) group who said they were coming back to spend a weekend in Hillsville to do the play. They are coming back to Hillsville and that’s what you want to do with tourism. Somewhere along the way I think there are events you could have on an annual basis around this to bring people in. Think if you could have a gazebo at the Allen House and musicians could perform here with everybody outside for a concert. It could be available as a wedding venue.”
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave