The Wayne County Museum building was constructed in 1927 by the Goldsboro Woman’s Club. In 1915, local women began work to raise the capital needed to build a home for their club. After World War I ended in 1918, they undertook two ambitious projects to raise money for the building fund: the operation of a cafeteria next to Robinson’s Drug Store in downtown Goldsboro and running a filling station that was constructed temporarily on the lot purchased for the club headquarters. The building was completed for $46,000 with most of the funding coming directly from the efforts of club members.
During World War II, the Goldsboro Woman’s Club offered the building to the USO (United Service Organizations). For over four and a half years, thousands of service men spent time socializing in the building which was often their last stop before being shipped overseas. Attendance reached as high as 12,000 per month. After World War II ended in 1945, the building was formally turned back over to the club in January 1947. Money donated by the USO for use of the building went to pay off the remaining $5,000 the Woman’s Club owed on a mortgage.
By the 1980’s, club membership had dwindled, and their executive board voted to donate the building to the Wayne County Historical Association. Plans were completed for the transaction and the deed was transferred in the fall of 1987. The Wayne County Historical Association raised over $65,000 to restore the exterior and ground floor of the building. On December 9, 1988, the Wayne County Museum officially opened with an event attended by over 400 people. Since the museum’s opening, an elevator has been added to the building to make the second floor handicap accessible. Other additions include a wheelchair ramp in front of the building and new handicap accessible restrooms.
Today, the Jeffersonian Revival style building that houses the Wayne County Museum is alive and thriving. Future buildings and grounds projects are planned. The second floor ballroom and stage is available to rent for parties, receptions and meetings. The museum is a stop on the North Carolina Civil War Trails with frequent visitors stopping by to learn more about Wayne County’s rich history. The museum is home to Herman Park’s original (1916) Lady in the Park statue (Hebe) and artifacts from Wayne County’s storied past to present day. Growth in events and programming continues to be one of our main goals, and the continual outreach to the local community is something we strive for in everything we do.