Our History - Providing for Our Community Since 1956
In July of 1956, Iredell Museum of Arts & Heritage was incorporated and the founders met with the City Council to request a lease on Statesville's original water pumping station. Built in 1899, the station was constructed to send water to the town cistern near Mitchell College. In 1950, a new pump station was built and the old building was ordered "abandoned and destroyed." Later, a lease on the abandoned building was approved and renovation began in August 1956. The new museum featured art exhibits and served as a catalyst in spreading knowledge of culture and art throughout the county. With this goal in mind, museum founders also initiated the Artists' Guild of Statesville, the Puppet Theater and the Statesville Little Theater. Land around the museum was increased from three acres to twenty. Two Colonial era log cabins, a smokehouse, barn, corn crib, schoolhouse and herb garden were acquired and set in the natural environment onsite. Demonstrations and events that featured life in early Iredell County were presented on site by volunteers. Walking trails were added, marked, and cleared by local Boy Scouts in 1974. In 1997-98 the Arts and Science Center refined its mission and changed its name to the Iredell Museum of Arts and Heritage. In 2003, the museum flooded and had to move its exhibits to a new site. In 2006 the Court Street Gallery was opened at the former site of the Children’s Museum.
Merger of Museums The fall of 1981 saw the incorporation of the first Children's Museum and the Iredell Board of County Commissioners approved use of 1,600 square feet for the museum in the Old Court House. The new museum featured hands-on learning exhibits, workshops and programs in the arts, culture and sciences, as well as a performing arts series. Between 1989 and 1993, the Children's Museum moved to the City Center and later to Mulberry Street School, always continuing the programming and events that were so important to the children of the county. In 1996, the Children's Museum relocated to 134 Court Street and purchased the building the following year. Although the first and second floors were stabilized and a new roof, stairwell and restrooms were added, the museum ultimately moved to the Signal Hill Mall satellite location for improved accommodations. In 2009, the Children's Museum underwent extensive renovations and a name change. The renovated space became Kids@Play and new exhibits were installed throughout. In December 2004, a successful merger was approved for the Iredell Museum of Arts and Heritage and the Children's Museum of Iredell County to become Iredell Museums. The museum is located right downtown at 134 Court Street, at the corner of Court and Meeting Streets right across the street from the Iredell Arts Council.