Local News

Private Donation Jumpstarts Downtown Henderson Revitalization

Posted January 20, 2004 9:04 a.m. EST

— A million-dollar donation from a private citizen has helped jumpstart Henderson's downtown revitalization project.

The Vance County town's future hangs on an eight-acre development called Embassy Square.

Like many small towns around the south, downtown Henderson shows the pain of losing tobacco and textile jobs.

That is why civic and business leaders are buzzing about a major revitalization project.

Supporters call Embassy Square salvation for a dying small town. Former Gov. Jim Hunt endorsed it.

This is the most important project in the history of this community," said Sam Wilson of the Embassy Square project.

The project will focus on economic growth and ever-increasing educational shortfalls.

"To reach out to the underprivileged kids and to bring them at an earlier age and pair them up with senior citizens and show them what an education can be," Wilson said.

Embassy Square will replace dilapidated buildings with new state-of-the-art facilities from an art gallery and performance hall to a theatre and a 40,000-square-foot public library.

The current library is located in an old grocery store. There is no shelf space left for books and only nine computers to serve as Henderson's only public access terminals.

The project got a jump start when Henderson resident Minerva McGregory donated $1 million toward it.

"Because of that we are going to have a facility here that will lift our entire community and we are just on cloud nine," said former mayor Chick Young.

The funding has reached the half way mark. Construction is set to begin this spring.

Once the project get under way, the library will be the first priority followed by the art gallery.