The Wayne County Historical Association (WCHA) was established on March 27, 1979 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
The purpose of this organization is to discover, preserve, document, display, and disseminate historical knowledge and artifacts of Wayne County. It also seeks to increase public awareness of the heritage of Wayne County and its environs through exhibits, events, and traditional and digital information sources.
The WCHA own and operate the Wayne County Museum as well as the Town Meeting Hall (formerly the First Presbyterian Church) on Ash Street.
The Wayne County Museum building was constructed in 1927 by the Goldsboro Woman’s Club. In 1915, local women began work to raise the capital to build a home for their club. After World War I, they undertook two ambitious projects to raise money for the building fund: the operation of a cafeteria next to Robinson’s Drug Store in downtown and running a filling station that was constructed temporarily on the lot purchased for the club headquarters.
The building was completed for $46,000 with most of the funding coming directly from the efforts of club members.
During World War II, the Goldsboro Woman’s Club offered the building to the United Service Organization (USO). For four and a half years thousands of service men spent time in the building which was often their last stop before being shipped overseas. Attendance reached as high as 12,000 per month. In January 1947, the building was formerly turned back over to the club. Money donated by the USO for use of the building went to pay off the remaining $5,000 the Woman’s Club owed on the mortgage.
By the 1980’s, club membership had dwindled and the executive board voted to donate the building to the Wayne County Historical Association. Plans were completed for the transaction and the deed was transferred in the fall of 1987.
The Wayne County Historical Association raised over $65,000 to restore the exterior and ground floor of the building. On December 9, 1988, the Wayne County Museum officially opened with an event attended by over 400 people. Since the museum’s opening, an elevator has been added to the building to make the second floor handicap accessible. Other additions include a wheelchair ramp in front of the building and new handicap accessible restrooms.
Today, the Jeffersonian Revival style building that houses the Wayne County Museum is alive and thriving. Future renovations and updates are ongoing. The second floor is available for rent thus returning the space to its former glory as a USO ballroom. The museum is a stop on the North Carolina Civil War Trails with frequent visitors stopping by to learn more about Wayne County’s rich history. The museum is home to Herman Park’s original Lady in the Park, and artifacts ranging from the American Revolution to present day. Growth in events and programming continues to be one of our main goals, and the continual outreach to the local community is something we strive for in everything we do. The upholding of the Wayne County Museum as a community building is what motivates the foresight of this organization.