Canton’s former police headquarters is slated to be transformed into the Cherokee County History Museum and Preservation Center, the Cherokee County Historical Society announced Friday morning.
“The new History Center will be located in the former Canton Police Station building at 221 E. Marietta St. in historic downtown Canton following an extensive reuse and renovation project. The museum is planned be a major tourist attraction for Canton and Cherokee County, as well as a center for local residents and students to explore the county’s rich and vibrant history,” said Stefanie Joyner, historical society director in a written statement.
The historical society is buying the building from the city of Canton for $1.32 million, and will make an initial payment of $600,000 at closing, which is expected this summer. The remainder will be paid annually from a tourism grant the society receives from the city’s hotel/motel tax fund, Joyner said.
City spokeswoman Angela Thompson said the building was constructed in 1970 and is approximately 10,000 square feet. The city acquired it in 1998, she said. The building was originally a U.S. Post Office branch.
The museum will use artifacts, storyboards and audio visuals, including personal narratives to teach visitors about Cherokee County history, Joyner said.
“We are excited to finalize the location of the new History Center,” Joyner said. “This will bring a much needed cultural attraction to Cherokee County and provide a place for students to learn about local history. We’re grateful to the city for working with us to make this a reality.”
The announcement comes as the historical society’s lease of space in the historic Cherokee County Courthouse, also in downtown Canton, expires.
When completed, the museum is expected to draw 20,000 visitors a year to Cherokee County, Joyner said.
The journey to having a history museum at the former police headquarters has had a number of moving parts, the first dating back to 2015 when the city of Canton traded property it owned off Bluffs Parkway to the Cherokee County School District for the school system to build a new headquarters.
With the school system central office out of the former Canton High School at 110 Academy St., the city bought it in 2018 and moved later that year as a new city hall. With the former city hall at 151 Elizabeth St. vacant, the Canton Police Department and city court moved into that building earlier this year, leaving the former police station vacant.
The Cherokee County History Museum and Preservation Center joins the Funke Heritage Center at Reinhardt University and the Woodstock Visitors Center at Dean’s Store as places to learn about local history.