One Tank Trip: Lonnie Gunter Jr., Center for Industrial History

PRINCETON, WV (WOAY) – A legacy project and a soon-to-be hub of history and culture in the City of Princeton, the future home of the Lonnie Gunter Jr., Center for Industrial History is where we’re arriving on this week’s One Tank Trip.

The project is headed by the nonprofit Riff Raff Arts Collective, a current hub of culture in the city, and one that has been in the community since 2006. The City of Princeton and the Lonnie Gunter Development Committee also support the project.

It’s an undertaking that will preserve and celebrate the state’s and the nation’s industrial heritage.

“Lonnie Gunter Jr. was a collector and he preserved an entire chapter of our state and nation’s history in a warehouse, and he had always dreamt of allowing as many people as possible to learn from and experience this collection, so it was always his dream to have a museum,” Executive Director of the Riff Raff, Lorie McKinney says.

To be located in the historic East End of Princeton, the museum’s development is now starting to gain some momentum.

After a year full of reviewing qualified architectural firm applicants to construct the center, the committee chose Johnson and Bailey Architects for the job. The Tennessee company was not only chosen for its quality work, but for its passion to produce the museum with the Princeton community’s vision of it in mind.

“They have been involved in our local community for many, many years, and they have deployed their artistic abilities on the downtown development over the years,” she says.

Encompassing the Lonnie Gunter Jr. collection includes steam engines, early vehicles, agricultural machinery and equipment, antique toys, and memorabilia from another time.

A hands-on museum, it will sit within a neighborhood of history. An iconic Railroad Museum and an Agricultural Museum are just a couple of historic spots that can already be seen next to the future center.

In addition to preserving and celebrating the rich history surrounding it, the museum will educate and inspire future generations to come.

“This whole stretch of town that we’re standing in is on the National Registry of historic places, and this historic East End district of Princeton will become a multi-day destination, and we imagine the economic impact it will have,” says McKinney.

The timeline for the project’s construction is still under development. People can see a video of the future museum by visiting the Riff Raff. 

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