Written by Maegan Collins, Media & Communications Coordinator
Those that laid the cornerstone of the Customs House and Post Office building in 1898 had no clue about the spectacle that the infamous building would become on the evening of October 3, 2020. Amid a global pandemic that forced the Museum to cancel its annual Flying High fundraiser, the Clarksville and Montgomery County community continued to show overwhelming support.
The Grand Illumination was the thought creation of the Museum’s Guild, Board of Trustees and Executive Director Frank Lott. The idea? Replace lost income from canceling Flying High with a virtual campaign, and tie in the campaign with a unique Museum event. The stars aligned and Museum leadership’s longtime dream to light up the roof of the 1898 building began to take off. Through the generous support of three major sponsors: CDE Lightband, Planters Bank and the Mike O’Malley Family, enough money was raised to complete the project.
On October 3, 2020, the community gathered outside the Museum and patiently awaited the countdown to turn the lights on for the first time. As Frank Lott counted down and representatives from the three sponsors stood next to him, waiting to “flip the switch,” the air from the public was enthusiastic and joyful. Everyone held their breath. And suddenly, light. Finally, finally, the building could be seen at all times. It represents a “beacon of enlightenment,” to light the way forward into the future by shining the light of truth on history, not only for our own community but for the world around us. The Museum continues to hold down the corner of S. Second Street where it has been for 122 years and will be for many, many more to come.
Major funding for the Grand Illumination provided by:
Thank you to our Radiant & Luminous Event Sponsors:
Photos by Kathryn Ely, EGR Photography and Maegan Collins.