Six months ago the Medal of Honor Museum’s lease was terminated after Patriots Point severed contractual ties with the Medal of Honor Museum Foundation. After prematurely capping the efforts on a 10-year contract, it seemed apparent that a museum of sorts was not going to be constructed within the town limits of Mount Pleasant.
After Charleston County Council Finance Committee met on May 30, it was evident that former member of the Patriots Point Development Authority (PPDA) and a revered military veteran were not willing to let the idea of a museum go by the wayside. Former PPDA board member Thomas McQueeney and Medal of Honor recipient retired USMC Maj. Gen. James Livingston proposed the outline for a new museum in the East Cooper area.
The six-month-old task force plans to name the project the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, with an estimated cost of approximately $35 million to build. The previous plans for the original Medal of Honor Museum required $100 million in funds.
The group requested Charleston County supply $5 million of funding over 10 years, or half a million each year over the next decade. Council voted unanimously in favor of funding the new museum, but made it clear they would not be the sole source.
The foundation is hopeful the Town of Mount Pleasant will fund $3 million and the state of South Carolina will fund $5 million towards the project. The council contingently agreed the foundation would have to receive at least that $8 million for them to proceed with funding.
Charleston County officials confirmed they have communicated with Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie on the town’s role in the funding process. They expect Haynie to address the $3 million pledge to Mount Pleasant’s Town Council in the immediate future.
The new museum would be separate from the previous Medal of Honor Museum planned at Patriots Point. McQueeney, who retired from PPDA last week to takeover as chair of Heritage Center, stated that the Heritage Center is the only ones designated to be a national Medal of Honor Museum. He also noted that the previous museum owners need to relinquish the rights to their title and website.
“We have been through some tough times with this museum and I hate to say I’m a little bit embarrassed because of this situation. I think we can move forward and get this thing done. It’s been an embarrassment to the community and the state and especially of all to me,” said Livingston who’s one of the 70 remaining of 3,500 recipients in the Medal of Honor’s history.
One sales pitch for their project is a fundraising nuance which they coined “a museum or your money back.” McQueeney said the group is not going to spend any money except interest earnings from the corpus for day-to-day operations until they build the museum. After collecting initial funds for start-up needs all public, corporate and private funds raised would be escrowed for the actual construction and creation of the Heritage Center, as reported by the Post and Courier.
The group has stated that their plans for the Heritage Center would comply with Mount Pleasant’s zoning regulations and have a more modest appeal in its design. As for the museum’s location, McQueeney said the Patriots Point location where the previous museum was slated to built “would be the primary place to go” but their group is open to alternative locations.
“They (Medal of Honor recipients) are very humble. They don’t care what the museum looks like, so much as they care what’s in the museum,” McQueeney said.
For now, the group awaits decisions on pledges from the Town of Mount Pleasant and the state which will determine the feasibility of future operations.
“We feel like there is a tremendous ground swell to get this done. And we are going to get this done,” McQueeney added.
For more information, visit the Heritage Center’s website at nmoh-hf.org.