The McDowell House could become a museum showcasing the county's past.

The historic McDowell House could become a museum showcasing the county’s past.

On Monday, March 13, the McDowell County Commissioners heard about a plan to convert the McDowell House into a historical museum.

Carol Price with the McDowell Tourism Development Authority said the historic structure could be converted into an attraction that would highlight other parts of local history not seen at the Carson House or the Mountain Gateway Museum. The McDowell House is part of the Overmountain Victory Trail and will be included in the Fonta Flora Trail.

“We would like to have a county museum there,” she said. “I feel we have a huge opportunity at that intersection to promote a museum there. We’re talking about how to move forward with that.”

Price added the McDowell House Committee has the money to replace the floor in the old house. The roof will need to be replaced as well.

Local historian Jim Haney said he’s looked at county historical museums in Burke and Lincoln and he hoped that McDowell could have one as well. It could focus on the Native Americans, the industries in McDowell and other chapters in local history not represented at the Carson House or the Mountain Gateway Museum.

“We have neglected certain areas,” said Haney.

The commissioners seemed to be supportive of the idea.

The McDowell House, originally called Pleasant Gardens, was for many years believed to be the home of Joseph McDowell, the hero of the Battle of Kings Mountain, an early member of the U.S. Congress and the county’s namesake. But more recent research indicates the house was actually the home of his son James and it was built in the early 19th century.

From the 1970s to the present, this 200-year-old structure has been used as a restaurant, a clothing store, a trophy shop and tax preparation offices.

The McDowell Quilt Trail used it as a workshop. In 2007, McDowell County Commissioners voted to purchase the site to protect it from encroaching commercial development. Since then, the county started the process of restoring the house to its original appearance and convert it into a museum or visitor’s center.