PELL CITY -- The Pell City Council during a special called meeting Wednesday approved applying for a $150,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant. The money would be used to develop a digital history of Avondale Mills.

The request seeking approval first surfaced at Monday night’s council meeting, but the council was reluctant to move forward because under the initial resolution, the city was responsible for the cost of remodeling the former Avondale Mills Human Resource Office for a museum. That requirement was removed from the revamped resolution.  

“I think all of us wanted to do this,” Councilman Jay Jenkins said Wednesday. “The problem was the fact that in two to three years, we would have to provide a physical location.”

In the past, officials have pointed to the building, which remains dormant on the former Avondale Mills property, as a possible museum, housing historic Avondale Mills artifacts and presenting the history and life around the once thriving Avondale Mills plant.  The area around the building was planned as green space, a park, with walking trails for the community, among other outdoor amenities.

The grant request was presented to the council by Jeff Thompson, the director for Pell City Center for Education and Performing Arts (CEPA), and Carol Pappas, who serves as the president for CEPA.

Thompson said that the Pell City school system, Pell City Center for Performing Arts, Jefferson State Community College in Pell City and the Heart of Pell City Downtown Revitalization were hopeful to join efforts with the city to secure the $150,000 matching grant. The grant must be secured through the municipality.

Pappas said the group hopes to secure the $150,000 match for the grant through fundraising efforts.

“…The city of Pell City approves to provide 1,000 salvaged bricks from the Avondale facility for a fundraising project, provided that all funds collected from the sale of said bricks shall be utilized to satisfy the $150,000 grant match…” the resolution passed by the council Wednesday states.

City Manager Brian Muenger expressed to the council Wednesday the efforts would likely amount to the municipality eventually moving towards establishing a museum to house Avondale Mills’ exhibits or displays.

Although the resolution passed by the council states, “…the city of Pell City recognized that the grant activities shall not include a physical display location, but rather shall be displayed in a digitally-available online format.”

Muenger said the city should know whether it is awarded the federal grant by August.

Muenger said the grant money cannot be used to renovate the former Avondale business office or towards converting the facility into a museum. Officials said the building is structurally sound and has no leaks.

Thompson said the grant application had to be submitted by Wednesday, so the council scheduled a special called meeting Wednesday, providing Thompson time to iron out the request, eliminating the requirement of the city to provide the museum space.

Thompson said the grant money would be disbursed over a three-year period, if the city’s application is approved.  

“This seems like something that there is very good chance they would get it,” Muenger said.