The Andrew Jackson Historical Foundation
In May 1989, the Andrew Jackson Historic Foundation and the Waxhaws Historical Festival and Drama Association executed an agreement whereby the Drama Association transferred to the Andrew Jackson Foundation approximately sixteen acres of land, and the Foundation agreed to improve the existing theatre facilities with additions and renovations that, in the aggregate, would total at least $100,000 within sixty months of the date of the agreement.
After the building was completed, no funds were available for the operation of the Museum. John Thomas Wilson, a member of the Board of Directors, volunteered to work at the Museum. He was there daily for a year and available as needed after that time period.
In February 1994, the Foundation received a grant from the North Carolina legislature in the amount of $100,000. This grant enabled the Board to advertise for a Director, and Ralph Ganis was selected from those who applied. Mr. Ganis began working at the Museum on July 1, 1995. In January 1996, another grant was received from the State in the amount of $200,000.
The Museum of the Waxhaws opened on February 14, 1996, on a regular basis, five days a week. Julie Ganis, wife of the Museum Director, established and maintained the Museum Gift Shop on a volunteer basis.
Early in 1997, another grant in the amount of $200,000 was received from the State. Senator Aaron Plyler was a member of the original Memorial Committee and served as a Member of the Board of the Foundation through November 1997. It was primarily through his efforts in securing funding that the Museum was established.
After the agreement between the Drama Association and the Historical Foundation was reached, sixty months passed without the improvements being made to the amphitheater area, and several extensions were granted by the Drama Association to the Foundation. In 1997, the two organizations reached an agreement whereby a 12.41-acre tract of land would be reconveyed to the Drama Association. At the February 22, 2001, meeting of the Board of Directors, the decision was made to purchase a 1.9-acre tract of land in front of the Museum from the Drama Association.
In July 1997, the Director elected to return to military service. Jason Smith served as Director until August 1998, when he resigned. Dr. Richard Durschlag was employed as Director in August 1998. In 2001, due to state budgetary restrictions, no state funds were available to help with the operation of the Museum, leading to a reduction in the days of operation.
The Museum Today
Today the Museum of the Waxhaws is open three days a week to the public with field trips and group visits occurring as scheduled throughout each week. We function as a nonprofit organization that runs on minimal assistance from government entities. The Town of Waxhaw assists us with groundskeeping and some funding, as well as corporate sponsors such as CMC-Union. The Union County’s Art Council, an organization focused on maintaining cultural and artistic awareness in Union County, assists us financially through the grants available to their agency for the purpose of providing cultural and artistic education to the children of Union County. Many of our programs are made possible through grants from the Union County Arts Council and the Grassroots Program of the North Carolina Arts Council, which is a state agency. We appreciate the support from private and public entities and government grants designated to help keep the arts and history alive in our region.
Our Growing Community
The Museum of the Waxhaws will continue to grow and expand as we move into the future, with changing demographics in the region, we hope that each new generation of Waxhaw residents will be interested in our rich heritage, and newcomers to this area will also want to contribute and help write our current history about this place. Waxhaw was founded by brave Scots Irish settlers who discovered this beautiful area, and wanted to forge a new life for themselves. More and more generations continue to bring their own cultures and lifestyles here, and our goal is to provide a place to celebrate the exciting currents of change. Our mission is to build upon tradition by exploring new cultures.
While new generations create new traditions here, many Waxhaw residents are curious about the ancient Native American tribes that once roamed these lands. As new homes are built on the open fields by the creek banks where the Waxhaw Indians once hunted, we intend to preserve knowledge and understanding of the native tribes that first lived here.