Rosine, Kentucky will soon be home to a museum honoring native son Bill Monroe. A groundbreaking ceremony for the project has been scheduled for May 22 at 10:00 a.m. at the town’s Everett Park.
Though a museum honoring the Father of Bluegrass, whose childhood home at Jerusalem Ridge is just a few miles from Rosine, has been a goal of tourism officials in western Kentucky for nearly twenty years, fundraising for the project began in earnest last summer with several donation campaigns. Funds have been solicited from both corporate and private sponsors, including through a “Buy a Brick” campaign that will allow donors’ names and a message of their choice to be featured as part of the “Blue Moon Walkway” around the museum. An initial donation of $300,000 from the state will provide for the building itself to be completed, but additional funds will go toward outfitting the museum with exhibits and displays.
The Ohio County Tourism Commission, which is overseeing the project and will eventually run the museum, plans to feature a wide variety of artifacts from Monroe’s life, including several pieces from Monroe’s home in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. According to county tourism director Jody Flener, “everything from his bull horns over the top of his mantle to the radio he used to listen to, to pictures and awards” will be displayed. The county has owned a collection of Monroe memorabilia since 1999, when it spent $250,000 in coal severance funds for items such as clothing, instruments, and a Cadillac Monroe once owned. They are now also accepting memorabilia donated from private collectors, fellow musicians, and others who knew Monroe.
Many bluegrass fans already visit Rosine to see Monroe’s homeplace, which was restored in 2001 and is open to the public daily, as well as a rebuilt version of Uncle Pen’s cabin and the Rosine Barn Jamboree. However, county officials believe that the museum will allow the town to become a more well-rounded tourism destination, drawing larger groups and bus tours. According to county judge-executive David Johnston, it “makes a good day trip for someone to come here.”
The county hopes to have the building completed and ready for visitors by September 13, which is Monroe’s birthday.
For more information on the museum or to donate to their fundraising campaign, visit www.billmonroemuseum.com or call the Ohio County Tourism Commission at 270-298-0036.