• Dave McGuire

Wanted: Clarksville HOF & Museum

Updated: Sep 7

The Clarksvillian

There is no disrespect intended to The Customs House or our local museum programs within this writing. Unfortunately, it's a clear statement to say Clarksville does not have a formal museum program capable of supporting healthy tourism, hosting traveling display events and/or educating citizens and visitors on a wide range of locally inspired topics. The reasons for the gaps at The Custom House are numerous and generally not unique to just our community - funding and project scope design prioritization. With the newly arriving MPEC arena, remodeling/rebranding of the Riverview Inn, and expansions of downtown entertainment options, there is an opening window of opportunity to become innovative with the marketing and family attractions for Clarksville.

Our history overflows with prominent individuals and events. For some of us, their names are as recognizable as the global brands they have associated with over the years. For others, the works of these nominees stand as a testament to innovative thinking and dedicated work ethics within an industry and community.

In a few more words, Clarksville area residents have made substantial contributions to the business, civic and athletic communities throughout the country – even globally. Our city has provided proud representatives within each of those fields and a creation of “The Greater Clarksville Hall of Fame and Museum” would serve to pay tribute and recognize those individuals. In addition to those individuals, impactful events within the city would be acknowledged to highlight our associations and experiences – Sheryl Crow’s video for “All I Wanna Do“, the blues era's Chitlin Circuit, Saturday Night Radio Dance Broadcast, Joseph Ruggles Wilson teaching at Southwestern Presbyterian University, Trace Adkins' video for “Still a Soldier” and US Presidential visits to Fort Campbell to name a few examples. Blending history with relatable modern events is an important key to success being used around the country.

With those staples of display items, partnering with Fort Campbell would be a given. Also beneficial to the hall’s operation will be a partnership with national museum programs that manage short term traveling displays necessary to keep the content fresh.

How would annual expenses be handled?

The short answer is through fundraising from public and private sources.

- Hall of Fame membership drives

- Corporate sponsors

- Dinners to promote local projects and updates on objectives

- Speaker series to promote HOF members, their contributions and/or influences

- Gala events surrounding Clarksville area events such as The Queen City Road Race, APSU Homecomings, New Year’s Eve, Independence Day, etc.

- Intimate live music or art showcase events

How would the selection process start?

City and County mayors appoint a nine-member commission to review and select 150 initial nominees. The commission would give those finalists a vote during a fundraising kick-off event held by the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. Moving forward, each year, new nominees will be accepted as part of the growing Greater Clarksville Hall of Fame and Museum. The admission process would be an annual series of events to include a dinner reception, induction ceremony, wrapping up with a meet and greet session. The inducted individual’s achievements will then then be showcased, along with corresponding artifacts, at a permanent display in downtown Clarksville’s hall-of-fame.

Would the location be important?

The location is critical to maximize exposure to city visitors and local businesses. Partnering with the CBD of the downtown Clarksville community will be critical. Maintaining a location within walking distance of the new downtown hotel and MPEC is important to maximize visitors from both personal and professional tourism. It is not necessary to take a cost-prohibitive approach of constructing a new building. A better approach of repurposing an existing downtown building, or buildings, is sufficient. An initial class of approximately 50-75 inductee exhibits and required spacing calls for creativity with square footage design requirements. The Customs House has an estimated square footage of 35k sq ft and would be a natural fit for The Greater Clarksville Hall of Fame and Museum. But is that location close enough to draw from the new MPEC’s entertainment area and hotel?

This project has a phone book size list of possibilities ranging from recent influencers such as Charles Hand to the city’s namesake George Clark. The value for such a project can be viewed through multiple lenses of education, tourism, entertainment, professional recruiting or networking.

Regardless of the view you prefer, it’s not difficult to make a final argument. Our collective history provides a valuable catalog of stories deserving of much more significance than its current inconsistent patchwork of productions.