About the museum

About the McDuffie Museum

The mission of the McDuffie Museum is to instill in the citizens of McDuffie County, especially its youth, an understanding of their heritage and sense of pride in the history of their community.

The McDuffie Museum started several years ago when a group of visionary citizens saw a great need for the preservation of history in their county. They all agreed that a museum would be the best way to collect and archive history, but a building was needed. In 2000, SunTrust Bank donated their two old buildings on Thomson’s Main Street to this group (that later became the museum board) with the understanding that they’d be used for the public good. The buildings were originally the “First National Bank of Thomson” (c. 1899) and “Thomson Drugs” (c. 1904).

Since a local history museum was a new frontier for McDuffie County, the museum board decided to enlist the help of professionals. In 2006, a grant from the Watson-Brown Foundation, Inc. made it possible to bring in Durel Consulting Partners, a Maryland based company, to provide direction. The Durels spent several months in the area interviewing county citizens and conducting group meetings. This process rendered the framework for McDuffie Museum’s master plan which included business and exhibit ideas and building renovations.

Extensive rehabilitation was needed to turn the two buildings into a museum. The bank building originally had a 20’ ceiling and balcony overlooking the main lobby. All of these beautiful architectural features had been covered by three dropped acoustical tile ceilings that housed years of antiquated wiring. Similar issues were exhibited in the pharmacy building. The museum board hired 2KM architects (an Augusta based architectural firm) to draw rehabilitation plans that suited the museum’s needs while preserving the historical and architectural integrity of the original buildings.

Two State Construction Co. of Thomson, was hired to execute the rehabilitation plans. For several months they worked full time on the first phase of rehab: three gallery spaces, caterers’ kitchen, office space, and restrooms. Phase two rehab included elevator installation, addition of gallery four, and restoration of the pharmacy’s second story. The Museum is currently holding off in starting phase two of the rehab, and has no set date for its completion.

In January 2009, the McDuffie Museum opened its doors with “Key Ingredients: America by Food”, an exhibit that came from the "Museums on Main Street" division of the Smithsonian Institute. Since that time, the McDuffie Museum has hosted many other exciting exhibits, the most important of which concern McDuffie County’s history.