The Perquimans County Chamber of Commerce building is no longer for sale.
The House had put his building on the market and county officials had expressed interest in purchasing the structure for use as a heritage museum.
But the end result of negotiations between the House and the County of Perquimans is that the House removed the building from the market and the county acquired all the memorabilia, merchandise and furniture associated with the Perquimans Visitor Center and the Jim “Catfish” Hunter Museum. .
The museum and visitor center previously operated alongside the Chamber office in the Chamber building.
County Director Frank Heath said last week county officials would discuss what to do with the newly acquired items.
“We will be working on a permanent location for the articles in the coming months,” Heath said.
Steven Young, the real estate agent who handled the marketing of the chamber building and also a member of the chamber board, said in an interview last week that the chamber had been in negotiations with a number of entities – including Perquimans County – and the result the House decided to remove the property from the market. He said county officials also decided to remove all museum artifacts, visitor center merchandise, and furnishings associated with the museum and visitor center from the building.
Young and Melanie Metzler, deputy chair of the House board, said the organization was delighted to remain in its centralized location.
Metzler said it was important that the museum and visitor center function as separate entities from the House.
“We had to separate that,” she said.
Celebrating the legacy of Catfish Hunter and welcoming visitors to the community are functions too important to be relegated to the limited time House staff have been able to devote to these operations, she said.
Young and Metzler said the House was ready to help Perquimans County in any way it could during the transition, such as finding a new location for the visitor center and museum.
Heath reported to the Perquimans Board of Trustees at their August 2 meeting that the Catfish Hunter Museum artifacts are being passed on to Perquimans County Tourism.
The collection was on display in the Perquimans County Chamber building. At the time of this meeting, the building was still for sale.
Commissioner Charles Woodard told the meeting that he was interested in the county acquiring the chamber building for the expansion of the Catfish Hunter Museum and the development of a Perquimans County Heritage Museum.
Woodard said that while Hunter is definitely the county’s favorite son, there’s a much more interesting story in Perquimans as well. The museum could include all aspects of the county’s history, including African American history and Quaker history.
Heath then agreed to speak to House officials about the possibility of the county acquiring the building.
Artifacts in the Catfish Hunter Museum include photographs and memorabilia highlighting the illustrious career of the late Hunter, a Perquimans native whose pitching exploits with the Kansas City (and Oakland) Athletics and New York Yankees – including a game perfect for Oakland in May 1968 – earned him a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
County officials said at the August 2 meeting that price would be an important factor in determining whether they would proceed with the purchase, and House officials confirmed last week that the House and County of Perquimans were unable to agree on a purchase price.
Metzler said the outcome – with the room remaining where it is and Perquimans County taking possession of the artifacts associated with the museum and visitor center – is the best for all involved.
“We are 100 percent in favor of this,” she said.
Metzler and Young said they hadn’t answered questions about the building’s plans before because they wanted to make the best decision and not announce anything prematurely.
“We carried it heavily on our shoulders the entire time,” Young said.
“Very strongly,” Metzler added.