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MSU architecture students offer hand in McClure renovation

January 12, 2013

In 2013, the Commerce Street building where “McClure Furniture” use to operate will be renovated and converted into a multi-purpose building designed to celebrate the arts in this community.
Along with other forms of art, this will be the new home of the Howlin’ Wolf Museum.
The community has come together to support this project, which could lead to a significant increase in tourism and tourism dollars in West Point.
There are those outside of the community too that are going to be helping to make this endeavor become a reality.
Students from the Mississippi State University College of Architecture and Design (CAD) were on hand at the current location of the Howlin’ Wolf Museum on Friday, getting a brief lesson on the legendary Blues musician and West Point native.
The Howlin’ Wolf Blues Society Program Director/Vice President Richard Ramsey gave the students the history lesson and tour he has given thousands of world travelers.
“We are here to help West Point develop a stronger identity as a community,” said MSU student Kristen Perry.
Zach Carnegie, another student that will be aiding in the renovation added, “this is the best way to display this work and bring awareness to Howlin’ Wolf in general.”
This is a class project that will likely evolve into a great learning experience for the six students who were on hand Friday.
Along with Carnegie and Perry, Jacob Owens, Jared Brown, Chance Stokes and Danielle Ward joined Ramsey at the museum.
Ramsey took the students through a piece of Delta history that has grown in legend and in world popularity over the decades. This is the story of how Robert Johnson ‘sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads.”
Ramsey says the location of the “crossroads” is unknown, but more important was Wolf’s interaction with musicians like Johnson and Charlie Patton. They and others were his greatest influence.
The Blues has become one of Mississippi’s most effective marketing strategies when it comes to attracting tourists.
For years, people from all over the world have flocked to Mississippi Delta towns in order to see the birthplaces of their favorite musicians.
Towns like Clarksdale and Indianola saw an opportunity to provide the tourists and the towns’ residents with direction.
Visitors know they are seeing authentic Blues sites and are purchasing legitimate merchandise, and the town benefits both culturally and financially from the marketing strategy.
The growing number of visitors to West Point’s Howlin’ Wolf Museum led city leaders and local civic organizations to the realization that the operation needs to be expanded.
The new location on Commerce Street will not only be a boost to the museum, but also visitors will be side-by-side with downtown restaurants and shops that do nothing but help sales tax revenue in the town.
With the passage of the one percent tourism tax in September, these tourists add to the town’s potential when they eat at local restaurants or decide to lodge in town before traveling further down the Blues Trail.

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