Preservation Statesville Sign 2

Hello.  My name is Steve Hill.  I’m a lifelong resident of Iredell Country, NC, and since 1969 I’ve been collecting historical memorabilia related to my hometown of Statesville and the surrounding communities.  As you can imagine, a lot of stuff can be accumulated in 45 years.  These pieces of our past have come from a wide variety of places, but mostly from auctions, flea markets, yard sales, antique shops and shows, and of course, the internet.  Incidentally, they have come from almost every state in the country as well.  

Many items in the collection were acquired from local residents who wanted to find a home for their prized family relics--a place where the items can be appreciated and preserved for posterity. In each of these cases, I have promised the donor that I will never sell or make a profit from their trust. This is a promise I take very seriously, and one that, I’m proud to say, has never been, nor ever will be, broken. 

The Statesville Historical Collection consists of thousands of items, the smallest being tin tags used to label plug chewing tobacco, and the largest being the 1961 Statesville Police Department “paddy wagon” truck.  Some of the more unusual items include an Aunt Sally’s mayonnaise jar manufactured on Depot Hill, and a legal check written on a brick from Statesville Brick Company that was actually cashed at NCNB in Statesville.  The strangest is probably a 25 foot length of hemp rope that came from the wall of a Colorado casino, along with a plaque that says, “This is the rope used to hang Tom Dooley’s HORSE”.  Other items include: 

  • PHOTOGRAPHS of Statesville/Iredell County streets, roads, buildings, businesses, athletic teams, special events, gatherings, etc.
  • ADVERTISING ITEMS used by and issued by local businesses (signs, posters, calendars, thermometers, novelties, billheads, invoices, etc.)
  • STATESVILLE NEWSPAPERS dating from the 1860s to the 1900s
  • BOTTLES and PACKAGES with printed and embossed names of local businesses
  • PICTURE POSTCARDS from the early 1900s through the 1960s
  • BOOKS, PAMPHLETS, FLIERS, CIRCULARS about local citizens, businesses, and places
  • TOBACCO and LIQUOR ITEMS from products manufactured in Statesville, such as: advertising, correspondence, boxes, bags, tags, labels, etc.
  • PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL ITEMS from Statesville Owls, Tigers, Colts, Indians, etc., and Mooresville Moors (Listing of Teams by Year 1937-1969)
  • MEMORABILIA from MOVIES filmed in Iredell County
  • COLLECTIBLES related to famous (and infamous) Iredell citizens
  • RECORDINGS (45s, LPs, cassettes, eight tracks) made by local artists
  • TOM DOOLEY MEMORABILIA, including books, recordings, and memorabilia from the movie The Legend of Tom Dooley
  • And lots of UNUSUAL & INTERESTING ITEMs relating to Statesville/Iredell County history

Until 2010, the bulk of the collection was in storage (some of it for over thirty years).  In October,  2010, however, local businessman, Bill Stiles, offered temporary storage space at the former FireFly Balloon factory at 810 Salisbury Rd., across from Black GMC, Buick. Check out the photos of the exhibit by Mickey Holton, here.

After a successful 2011 exhibition, the Balloon Factory building was sold. In the spring of 2012, the collection was relocated to a new temporary home at 212 South Center Street, in downtown Statesville. Exhibit space was made possible by the staff and Board of Directors of the Downtown Statesville Development Corporation. A special thank you goes to Marin Tomlin, Executive Director, and to DSDC Chairmen Bob Dooley and Jeff Archer.

In the meantime, Jimmy Douglas with Douglas & Sons, Inc. has been providing storage for the remainder of the collection.

Finally, through the generosity of the Gordon family, the collection found a permanent home in the summer of 2014, with the opening of a new gallery at 212 North Center Street. A heartfelt thank you to the entire Gordon family for their kindness, friendship and continued support for, not only the Statesville Historical Collection, but for our entire community.

The Statesville Historical Collection is operated by a great group of historical-minded volunteers who make up Preservation Statesville, a 501(c) not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving our history. Join Preservation Statesville and become a volunteer.

I hope you will stop by and visit.