BRISTOL, Va. (AP) - Work is under way to convert a building in downtown Bristol, Va., into a museum recognizing the region's country music heritage.
BurWil Construction has begun the first phase of construction, which will include completing the 24,000-square-foot building's core and shell.
"This is a project we have followed for years and it is an honor to be part of the team to make it a reality," BurWil President Bill Prince told the Bristol Herald-Courier "I feel like it will be a major economic boost to Bristol and the entire region."
The museum could attract 75,000 visitors annually and have a $49 million economic impact in its first five years, according to a study by the University of Virginia's Weldon-Cooper Center for Public Service.
The nonprofit group BCM raised more than $10 million for the project and developer Steve Johnson donated the 24,000-square-foot building.
"It's very exciting to know it really is under way and - I think by spring - you'll see such a big difference because there will be so much going on," BCM Executive Director Leah Ross said. "A lot of people have worked a long time on this and it's really gratifying to see this come to fruition."
Construction is expected to be completed in December 2013 and the museum is scheduled to open in August 2014. Exhibits will recognize the musical heritage of Bristol, Va., and Bristol, Tenn., and the 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings, which BCM said marked the beginning what became country music. The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers were among the musicians who recorded songs that year in Bristol.
Ross said the project's design team is working on the exhibits' final design.
Information from: Bristol Herald Courier, http://www.bristolnews.com
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