News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander’s office:
TOWNSEND, March 3 – At an event today at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) welcomed U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell for the unveiling of construction plans of the Joint Curatorial Collections Facility that will house more than 800,000 historical artifacts and archival records.
“East Tennesseans feel like we own the park because many of our families did,” Alexander said. “This is an opportunity to celebrate the way of life of those mountain families who once lived here. This is great news for everyone who loves the Great Smoky Mountains, and I thank Secretary Jewell for making this happen. Her efforts, combined with the commitment of park service employees and generosity of friends of the Smokies, ensures that we will be able to preserve the history of those families.”
The Joint Curatorial Collections Facility near the Townsend park entrance will preserve 422,000 historical artifacts and 450,000 archival records, including land records, oral histories, historic photos and park operating records, and items such as clothing, vintage weapons, logging-era equipment, farm tools and other possessions from the individuals and families living on the farmsteads of the Southern Appalachians in pre-park days. The archival collections will also include President Andrew Johnson’s presidential papers.
The total cost for funding the facility is approximately $4.3 million, more than half of which is being provided through private donations. In addition to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, other federal park and recreation areas will be able to make use of the new joint facility, including the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park and Obed Wild and Scenic River. Artifacts and records are currently being stored in facilities that do not meet National Park Service standards for physical security, or environmental controls to protect them from mold, insects and fire.