September 10, 2019 10:46:29 AM
MERIDIAN -- The home-town museum honoring the father of country music will open in temporary space while renovation of its new permanent home continues.
Officials expect a surge of interest in Jimmie Rodgers, the first performer inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, after PBS airs an eight-part Ken Burns-produced documentary about country music, said Meridian community development director Laura Carmichael. The series begins Sept. 15.
"We want to make sure that we are prepared for that added interest," Carmichael, who's also on the Jimmie Rodgers Foundation board, told The Meridian Star.
Rodgers, called the Singing Brakeman because he worked on railroads, influenced dozens of stars including Gene Autry, Merle Haggard and Dolly Parton, according to his biography on the Hall of Fame's website. His hits included "In the Jailhouse Now," "Frankie and Johnny," and "Blue Yodel" and 12 sequels.
The Jimmie Rodgers Museum in a Meridian park has been closed since May 2018 while an existing railroad museum is renovated as the Jimmie Rodgers Railroad and Music Museum.
Exhibits about Rodgers will open temporarily in another downtown building.
Carmichael did not immediately answer calls and an email from The Associated Press asking about an opening date.
"We feel like it will be an opportunity to have a space downtown that will allow people to experience the Jimmie Rodgers Museum as well," Carmichael said.
It's not clear when the museum can move into the former Railway Express Agency building. Earlier this year the foundation estimated that repairs, to be paid for by donations, would cost between $100,000 and $200,000. Changes include renovating bathrooms, installing an alarm system, replacing windows and the roof and possibly replacing the HVAC system.