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McClure Building to be new home for the arts

February 2, 2013

Only a handful of states remained in white, indicating no one from those borders had yet registered as a visitor to the Howlin’ Wolf Museum in West Point.
The map contained in Roger Pryor’s powerpoint presentation to the crowd at the 87th Annual Banquet for the community on Thursday night also had 14 foreign nations listed which have sent visitors to the heart of this city to pay tribute to Wolf.
Pryor, an architect and West Point native has helped to preserve numerous buildings in West Point, as a partner in the Pryor and Morrow architect firm.
On Thursday night, Pryor spoke to the large crowd about the work that is being done at the McClure Building at the corner of Broad and Commerce.
One day soon, it will house the newly expanded Howlin’ Wolf Blues Museum and the Louise W. Campbell Center for the Arts.
“Three individuals have worked tirelessly on this project,” Pryor commented early. “Richard Ramsey, Lee Stafford and Scott Ross have made this project happen.”
Pryor credited Ross with designing the intellectual foundation for the project. Ross’ three concepts of “Expand,” “Collaborate” and Educate” allowed all of the architects of this project to “think big.”
First, the project with Wolf was expanded beyond the McClure Building, with the Howlin’ Wolf monument and Blues Trail marker on Broad Street.
The architects also began to collaborate with internationally acclaimed museum designers, namely Ralph Applebaum of New York.
Applebaum’s firm has worked on nearly 500 projects since 1978, and these finished projects have been visited by more than 50 million people.
“They are from New York, and they knew about Howlin’ Wolf immediately when I called them,” Pryor said.
From an economic development standpoint, the meticulous expansion should certainly pay off for West Point in terms of tourism tax revenue.
Pryor pointed out that Indianola’s tourism tax increased by over double since 2008 since the B.B. King Museum opened in the Delta city.
The high volume of traffic flowing through the current museum in West Point is a good sign of things to come, since the city is not on the typical Delta Blues tours.
“It is a destination type museum,” Pryor said. “People make a deliberate decision to come see it.”
The McClure Building will also house the Louise W. Campbell Center for the Arts, in honor of Campbell who has been a resident of the community for over 50 years.
Campbell is a founding member of the Prairie Arts Festival.
The McClure project will also give a permanent home to the West Point/ Clay County Arts Council.

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