Local Stories

Revitalizing Downtown Rockingham

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In October 2010, Discovery Place Inc. began exploring opportunities to expand into other communities. The Foundation For the Carolinas, based in Charlotte, engaged Discovery Place in a conversation about a possible site in Richmond County and coordinated a research effort to determine the practicality and feasibility of the area as a Discovery Place KIDS location. With strong encouragement from the local community and overwhelmingly positive feedback, The Foundation For the Carolinas facilitated the commitment of a total of $6.6 million in funds from the Cole Foundation and the Richmond Community Foundation as part of a comprehensive campaign to build the new Museum.

The Richmond Community and Cole Foundations, whose gifts help ensure long-term sustainability, are one piece in a trio of project partners. The second, the City of Rockingham, purchased the former McKenzie Furniture building on E. Washington Street in downtown Rockingham as the new home of the museum and managed up-fit and future maintenance of the building. Discovery Place Inc., as the museum partner, developed exhibits and educational components and manage the day-to-day operations.

A campaign cabinet led by honorary chairmen Russell Bennett and Neal Cadieu guided the community funding effort on behalf of Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham, raising awareness of the project and garnering widespread support from corporations, foundations, professionals and individuals throughout the Sandhills. Discovery Place also received a $2 million challenge grant in early 2012 from The Leon Levine Foundation.

“We are very excited that our community was such a great fit for Discovery Place Inc.’s expansion outside the Charlotte market,” said Steve Morris, mayor of Rockingham. “We know this new museum will change the face of Rockingham with a reach far beyond the Sandhills region and we anticipate a long, successful partnership.”

“Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham has been a community project and would not have been possible without extraordinary widespread support from foundations, organizations, individuals and corporations in Rockingham, Richmond County and the entire Sandhills region,” said Gene McLaurin, former North Carolina senator and former mayor of Rockingham. “Discovery Place Inc. has more than 60 years’ experience developing and operating museums large and small, and their expansion into this region provides a new learning adventure for our young people.”

Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham’s regular operating hours are Tuesday – Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday noon – 5 p.m., Monday closed. Admission to Discovery Place KIDS is $8; younger than age one are free. All children must be accompanied by an adult throughout their visit. Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more. Military members receive $2 off admission. For more information about the museum please call (910) 997-5266 ext. 300, visit https://kids.discoveryplace.org/rockingham or email info@discoveryplace.org.