Columbus leaders react to Historic Westville move

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - After decades of struggling to stay afloat, a museum in West Georgia gears up to move to the Fountain City. On Thursday we spoke to Columbus leaders and historians to see how they feel about the move.

The news comes as an un-welcomed announcement for some in Stewart County, "Why don't we raise the Titanic and move it to Columbus too," wrote one viewer on the WTVM Facebook page, as the word spread Wednesday that the 19th century living museum is moving to Columbus.

Leaders might find the comparison quite accurate, as Historic Westville has allegedly been a sinking ship for decades.

"Sharp decline in attendance over the past twenty years with also the sharp decline in donations and other sources of revenue," said Executive Director Leo Goodsell.

While some find the official announcement disheartening, many in the Columbus community are anxiously awaiting the new attraction, including the mayor.

"It's going to re-image south Columbus," said Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson.

The museum's new site will be near Fort Benning, and administrators hope to have it opened by 2018. Columbus already draws in visitors and locals to historical attractions, and directors at the National Civil War Naval Museum say the move will compliment what they have to offer.

"It's a great transition, school children in particular, visitors of course, can get a full history of the 19th century," said the National Civil War Naval Museum's Executive Director Holly Wait.

Not only will it add to the Valley, but city leaders also say it will help Westville grow and fix their dwindling attendance numbers.

"I think they're going to see tremendously increased traffic, not only with more school children being more readily accessible to that facility, but also with a camping site they're looking forward to doing," said Tomlinson.

For history enthusiasts, both Westville and the Civil War Naval Museum will be hosting their old-fashioned Christmas parties this weekend on Dec. 5. Historic Westville will host crafts, and decorated buildings from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m, while the Naval museum will welcome guests on Saturday from 10 a.m to 4:30 p.m. as well as on Sunday, Dec. 6 from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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