Gaston County Museum

131 West Main Street
Dallas, NC 28034



The U.S. Bicentennial reawakened pride in America's collective past. To promote an understanding of that heritage, two community leaders, Jeanne Rauch and Lucy Penegar, along with other members of the county's Bicentennial Commission, requested $5,000 in seed money and assistance in the form of manpower/personnel from the Gaston County Commissioners. This was soon supplemented with additional financial support from the town of Dallas, North Carolina Bicentennial Commission, Gastonia Junior Service League, Jeanne G. Rauch and the Ralph S. Robinson Family Foundation.

On October 15, 1975,  the Gaston County Art & History Museum was formed as a cultural project of the Gaston County Bicentennial Commission.

On March 23, 1976, Gaston County Art & History Museum received its tax-exempt status and became a legal entity supported by Gaston County and governed by an independent board of trustees. The Gaston County Museum is a place of discovery, inspiration and learning. Through its exhibitions and programs for adults, families and schools, GCM stimulates the imagination and advances understanding of history and art.

On July 4, 1976, Gaston County Art & History Museum opened its doors to the public on the second floor of the Dallas courthouse location  initially administered by a volunteer staff of dedicated men and women from throughout the county. Gaston County hired Alan D. Waufle as the first museum director in late 1976.

Early in 1977 Dallas' original turn of the century Carolina and Northwestern Railroad depot, which was slated to be destroyed, was given to the museum and moved to a vacant lot beside the Dallas library. It became the museum’s Learning Station, then the Exhibit Design Shop, and is now currently the Anne Biggers Furr Learning Station. Not long after the depot was donated, the Southern Railway gave a railroad caboose which provided much needed museum space, and it was relocated beside the restored depot.

Because of the limited exhibit space and restrictive access, the trustees began looking for an alternative to the old courthouse site in 1977-1978.

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