Timeline of the Tubman Museum

1982: The Rev. Richard Keil, pastor of St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, puts forward his vision for a museum that would educate visitors about black history, art and culture. He starts a corporation to raise money to buy property for the museum site.

1985: After spending about $118,000 on renovations, the Tubman African American Museum opens in its current location, an 8,500-square-foot building on the corner of Walnut Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

1994: The Tubman considers purchasing what is collectively known as the Western Union block at the corner of Cherry and Fifth streets from the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority. The museum says it will pay $300,000 for the property and then spend $2 million on renovations. The deal never happens. Instead, the museum, on the advice of a consultant, acquires the Cherry Street property, demolishing the existing buildings for a new structure.

1997: Fundraising for the new Tubman museum begins. Final estimates for the project put the cost at about $15 million.

1998: Despite reservations, the Urban Development Authority votes to give about three-quarters of an acre at Cherry and Fifth streets to the Tubman for its new museum.

2001: Community leaders break ground on the new museum. City officials approve a revenue bond package for downtown redevelopment that includes $1 million earmarked for the Tubman.

2002: Construction begins on the new facility. Tubman officials say the new museum will open by 2003.

2003: The Tubman’s copper dome is put in place atop the 40-foot-high building. The museum receives a $475,000 federal grant for construction.

2004: About $3 million short of funds, Tubman officials begin a new campaign to raise money, saying they now expect to open the new museum in summer 2005. The museum receives another $920,000 in federal funds for construction.

2005: Construction halts when funds run dry. Museum officials say they need about $1.5 million to finish. That amount climbs to $3 million. After the departure of longtime director Carey Pickard, an interim director is hired and asked to assess the situation. Eventually, officials conclude that it will take more than $10 million to finish the work.

2006: Andy Ambrose is hired as the museum’s new executive director. The Tubman spends about $70,000 to renovate its existing facility.

2007: Tubman officials begin a campaign to raise nearly $10 million to complete the new museum.

2011: Bibb County voters overwhelmingly approve a $190 million special purpose sales tax initiative, with $2.5 million earmarked to help complete the Tubman’s construction.

2013: Ambrose tells members of the Macon-Bibb Urban Development Authority that interior construction is scheduled to begin by late in the year, with an opening by January 2015. He estimates that new construction will cost about $5.5 million.

January 2014: About two dozen construction workers are back at the Tubman, working on the museum’s interior. The inside of the building shows that it has aged well, even though parts of the museum are nearly 10 years old.

May 16-17, 2015: The Tubman is scheduled to open its new Cherry Street Plaza home with a two-day celebration.

Telegraph archives were used in this report. Staff writers Jonathan Heeter and Oby Brown contributed to this report.

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