SPENCER, N.C. — The N.C. Transportation Museum will receive $10 million in state funding to complete the renovation of the Spencer Shops Powerhouse, the second oldest building on the shop complex that dates to 1896, and to restore the Car Shed to house the museum’s passenger cars. An additional $280,000 will go to replace lost revenue from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The funding comes after the state General Assembly approved and signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper. Both the powerhouse and Car Shed are important to the museum’s future.
“We’d like to thank Governor Cooper, the General Assembly, N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources leadership, and the N.C. Transportation Museum Foundation for all of their support of the museum and securing this funding,” says Kelly Alexander, executive director of the museum. “These projects will allow us to engage our visitors, increase our economic impact, and preserve our equipment for years to come.”
“These buildings are essential to our continued growth in expanding exhibits, providing protected storage for the restored passenger equipment, and providing support facilities for our outdoor car, truck and firetruck shows” says Roy Johnson, president of the N.C. Transportation Museum Foundation.
The 1896 Powerhouse will be renovated to provide special events space and a place for traveling exhibits, while the Car Shed will offer cover to the museum’s passenger car fleet. A $1.6 million renovation of the Powerhouse in 2016 stabilized the walls and repaired the windows and doors.
The next step will create two special events spaces, one 5,400 square feet in size and the other 4,300 square feet. It also will allow for the installation of restrooms, a catering kitchen, and an outdoor patio and covered picnic shelter. Next door will be a children’s play area and outdoor special events space for car shows, concerts, festivals, and other events.
The Car Shed is approximately 80-feet by 120-feet and is the section of a much longer building that was the place where freight cars were built and repaired.
This building is critical to the museum as the location where restored passenger cars will be housed when not in use.
The museum has restored 3 heavyweight coaches and purchased or been given additional coaches, one Pullman and one private car, all needing varying degrees of restoration.
The scope of work will include removal of the remaining roof deck, seismic bracing of the existing structure with a new addition of similar construction, new roof, partial side walls, painting, lighting, ventilation, and fire protection. New track and adjacent site work including sidewalk access will link this building to the Powerhouse and the Back Shop that opened in 2017.
The museum’s center piece is the 37-stall Bob Julian Roundhouse, completed in 1996 and host to the 2012 Norfolk Southern heritage units event and 2014’s Streamliners at Spencer gathering of more than 30 historic cab units. The roundhouse was also the site of the restoration of Norfolk & Western Class J 4-8-4 No. 611 in 2016. More outstanding events are in the works.