The Roanoke Valley Veterans Museum has a new home, and a familiar local name is responsible for helping to ensure its heritage will be preserved in Littleton.
The museum is moving from Roanoke Rapids to downtown Littleton and is expected to reopen by summertime thanks to a partnership with Ed and Deb Fitts and the Fitts Foundation that will see the museum rent space in the old Carquest Auto Parts building at 102 E. North Main Street (the same street that is home to Littleton Hardware).
“This is going to work out great,” said retired Air Force Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, the chair of the museum’s board of directors, “and we hope that people visit us as a destination and certainly, people visiting the lake, looking for something else to do. Come on down to the veterans museum and check out the heritage of the veterans in the Roanoke Valley.”
The Roanoke Valley Veterans Museum had called Becker Village Mall in Roanoke Rapids home for the last 12 years, but financial strains on each place left the museum’s future in dire straits.
The museum, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit that operates on donations and volunteers, sent out word last year that it needed saving.
Three supporters stepped up including the Fittses, Weldon Mills Distillery co-owner Bruce Tyler and an anonymous donor offering a large building in Roanoke Rapids.
“Who does that? What a cool place to live where people offer you buildings,” said Johnson, who lives in Twin Oak Shores at Lake Gaston.
The museum could still utilize those other options in the future, Johnson said. Tyler, a staunch advocate for veterans and one himself, was planning on purchasing a storage building for his growing business and offered half of the space to the museum for no cost.
In Littleton, the museum will have less space than the 5,500 square feet it boasted at the Roanoke Rapids mall that displayed more than 1,700 photos of Roanoke Valley veterans. So Johnson theorized that the new museum could make up for less space by rotating exhibits on a quarterly basis.
Johnson said the Fitts Foundation will also assist with building modifications and storage space.
“We’d like to thank Lowe’s in Henderson, which gave us a bunch of boxes, at cost,” Johnson said. “Tractor Supply Company that sold me a gun safe for less than it cost to make it, I think. And people that have already donated to us to help us fund the move.”
Now, the museum needs volunteers. Knowledgeable veterans will be ideal once the museum is up and running but anyone will be welcomed to lend a hand.
“We are now looking for volunteers to help man the museum in the new Littleton location,” Johnson said. “This is making it possible for us to preserve the heritage of veterans in the Roanoke Valley. Please volunteer.”
Reach Johnson at 252-586-4469 and donate to the Roanoke Valley Veterans Museum Go Fund Me page at https://www.gofundme.com/f/roanoke-valley-veterans-museum?qid=2dfd2b0ac319b0b080afd79bcf458f1f.