Local museum plans rolling

CNJ staff photo: Helena Rodriguez Ernie Kos of the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce shows one of the first donations to the future Curry County Historical Museum — a handgun used in a 1920s or 1930s feud.

By Helena Rodriguez: CNJ staff writer

Roswell draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to its UFO museum every year. In Lubbock, they flock to the Buddy Holly Museum. Clovis officials hope to get visitors rolling into town, too, with the Norman and Vi Petty Rock ’N’ Roll Museum.

“One thing we have that is unique to Clovis is our history of music and our Norman Petty Seventh Street Studio. Once we get a museum up and running, the museum, combined with our Clovis Music Festival, we hope to get a large increase in people driving through,” said Chase Gentry, Clovis Industrial Development Corp. executive director.

“I understand that Roswell gets 250,000 visitors a year to its UFO museum, and if we can catch a portion of those people, we will be doing good,” Gentry added.

Ernie Kos, Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce executive director, said the Chamber is working on the museum in cooperation with the Norman Petty Studios after getting state grants in 2005.

Work has already begun for the museum, which will be located in the basement of the new Business Enterprise Center in the building that houses the CIDC and Chamber offices. Officials hope to open the museum in 2008.

About $350,000 in funds is available to begin work on the museum, and Gentry said he and a committee have been working with an architectural firm on the interior and exterior design of the museum.

“The concept of the museum is that it will be educational but also interactive. We want it to be a state-of-the-art facility with story boards that tell the history, and we also want to have a small theater when people walk in where we hope we can show the movie, ‘The Buddy Holly Story,’” Gentry said. Other ideas for the museum include a 1950s soda fountain.

Gentry said he is also discussing with the architects the possibility of a facade with an awning that will create the image of a guitar when the sun shines through.

State Rep. Anna Crook, R-Clovis, started working on getting funding for the museum three years ago. Crook said, “There is a worldwide Buddy Holly thing and this will create a lot of interest. It will put Clovis on the map more when it comes to rock and roll history.”

The Petty museum will also house a collection of Curry County artifacts to showcase the area’s history. Gentry said the plan is to establish a separate Curry County Historial Museum in the future.

Curry County artifacts are being sought, and one of the first donations has already been received. The Brett Johnson Foundation recently donated a revolver carried by Carl Bohannan when he was killed during a gunfight with Vernon Tate during the infamous Tate/Bohannan Feud that took place during the 1920s or 1930s.

According to Kos, the gun was used during a robbery at the old Citizens Bank on Main Street. They have also received an old Clovis High School band jacket.

Gentry said an entourage will be visiting museums in other towns such as Nashville, Tenn., to get more ideas for the rock ’n’ roll and historical museums.

Historical artifacts may be donated to the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce, 105 E. Grand Ave., Clovis, NM 88101. 763-3435.