INTERNATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS CENTER AND MUSEUM
Fifty years ago, the F.W. Woolworth building in Greensboro, North Carolina, was a focal point in the struggle for civil rights when four local college students staged a sit-in at the "whites-only" lunch counter at the back of the store. After many years of neglect, the building and its significant history stood largely unnoticed. The non-profit organization, Sit-In Movement, Inc. purchased the F.W. Woolworth Building in downtown Greensboro with a vision to renovate the historic building to house the new International Civil Rights Center and Museum. Today the building stands as a monument to the power of human courage and its ability to bring about social change. It is a place to witness, to experience and to discuss how to affect social change in our own nation and around the world.
The renovation of the building centered around the preservation of the Art Deco style exterior and modern renovation of the interior to house the new International Civil Rights Center and Museum. This project, which includes the renovation of three levels (45,000 sf), includes the historic lunch counter where the first sit-in took place as well as the original monumental stair. The development of the exhibits and interior was centered around keeping significant "artifacts" in their original places and allowing the procession to respond to their location. A series of exhibits in the main exhibition hall, as well as in numerous other areas throughout the building, chronicle the struggle for civil rights in America and throughout the world. The climax of the exhibits is at the historic lunch counter where visitors are able to see where the original sit-in took place.
In addition to telling the story of the civil rights movement, the International Civil Rights Center & Museum is also an archival center, collecting museum, and teaching facility devoted to the international struggle for civil and human rights. Other spaces within the building include a large auditorium where lectures, classes and events such as an annual speaker series can be held, staff offices, support spaces, and gift shop, which is located along the street edge and reminds visitors of the building's origin as a department store.
The exterior and select portions of the interior have been preserved to national standards qualifying the project for significant tax credits. Preservation efforts included significant mitigation of the deteriorating structure, foundations, and weather envelope to not only fend off further deterioration but also to meet the American Association of Museum Accreditation Standards. Many of the interior areas were refinished to their original condition, while new bold materials and lighting were introduced to further emphasize the powerful stance taken by those seeking equality.
(Through previous association with The Freelon Group. Victor Vines- PIC, Adam Brakenbury- Designer)