TAZEWELL, VA – FEBRUARY 4, 2022 An up to a $50,000 grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Tourism Capital Improvement Matching Fund to be used to renovate and expand the Farm and Transportation Exhibit Building at the Historic Crab Orchard Museum and Pioneer Park in Tazewell County was approved recently.

The building, most often referred to at the museum as “the red barn,” houses museum exhibits, but is also used for musical events, educational and cultural meetings and has been used as a wedding venue.

“VCEDA is pleased to assist the Historic Crab Orchard Museum in its efforts to grow its tourism assets in Tazewell County,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “The funds will be used for construction and expansion of the red barn space with the intention of attracting larger weddings, musical events and other educational and cultural meetings to the space, according to the museum application which projects within three years to add three additional full-time jobs and three additional part-time jobs over current staffing levels.”

Matching funding for the project has been pledged by Lynda Stuart.

The museum is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, non-stock Virginia corporation formed on June 1, 1978.  Its mission is as a regional Appalachian history museum, serving as a cultural heritage tourist attraction and as a center for special events, exhibits and educational programs.  The museum has a 23-acre campus located along U.S. 19/460 in Tazewell County. 

The red barn, which will be renovated, was built in 1988 as an additional exhibit space specifically for farm heritage and vintage transportation equipment. Through the years, the space in the red barn has been used for small weddings, family reunions and as a local meeting venue. The space that is not currently being used as an exhibit area has a capacity of 50 to 70 persons.

The museum’s plans call for the VCEDA funds to be utilized to add on to the existing red barn structure, to update the exhibit area behind a plexiglass partition and to add restrooms and a catering kitchen.

A revised rental fee structure is projected to generate revenue to pay for expenses and will generate additional funds to help sustain the museum’s overall budget for years to come, according to the application for funding.

Currently, the red barn is approximately 2,800 square feet. The addition would increase the space by another 1,800 square feet with an additional outdoor patio area that can be enclosed if needed.  Those renovations will increase the overall number of people that can be accommodated in the expanded facility to a total of 150 to 200 people.

“We are excited to begin renovations of our Farm and Transportation exhibit space, commonly referred to as, the red barn, into a true event center for our community,” said Crab Orchard Museum Executive Director Cynthia Farmer. “This expanded and more functional building will provide a venue for many functions, including weddings, reunions, anniversaries, educational seminars and Appalachian music performances. 

“As a regional museum, our primary purpose remains the preservation, protection, interpretation and sharing of our artifacts as we promote the story of our Appalachian heritage,” Farmer added. “The ability to protect and display those artifacts, while providing a ‘gathering space’ has been a vision for many years. The matching funds made available through the VCEDA Tourism Grant Program are vital to this project. This assistance will allow Historic Crab Orchard Museum to better serve our community, as well as to promote and support tourism for the region.”

About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vceda.us or www.e-Region.org.