St. Petersburg Museum opens its first main exhibition “Pillars of Commerce”


PETERSBURG – Thanks to elbow grease and dedication, a main exhibition “Pillars of Commerce” will open in the majestic rotunda of The Exchange Building on Friday September 17th.

“In an effort to share Petersburg’s 400-year history, we are delighted to open the first of many exhibits here at The Exchange Building,” said Martha Atkinson, museum director for Petersburg Preservation. “Dedicated volunteers made this exhibit a success and I am very proud of their efforts.

The exhibit, made possible through a grant from Virginia Humanities, will focus on the four pillars of industry that have made Petersburg a major southern city: tobacco, cotton, iron, and transportation.

“It is with great pleasure that the Petersburg Preservation Working Group [PPTF] will open the main exhibit, ”said Dean McCray. “It is a great honor to be the chair of this wonderful group of volunteers and to see the hard work and dedication of hundreds of volunteers come to fruition.

In 2016, PPTF entered into a contract with the city of Petersburg to operate the museums. They took over the day-to-day operations of Blandford Church and the Center Hill Museum.

The exchange building in Petersburg, Virginia.

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“The Stock Exchange building, better known at the time as the Siege Museum, was a disaster,” McCray said. “The building had asbestos, mold, a leaking roof, broken windows and the utilities were not working.”

The only National Historic Landmark in St. Petersburg stored old furniture and supplies and was a huge mess.

Volunteers of students, housewives, lawyers, firefighters, CEOs, historians and many more from diverse backgrounds came together, planned and executed to open the Exchange building to the public.

“The PPTF has raised funds and received donations from construction companies and suppliers to address the issues,” McCray said. “We’ve all helped clean up and clean up years of dirt. This kind of fellowship and work has formed a bond and is ready to be shown as to what a determined group of volunteers can accomplish.

The St. Petersburg Visitor Center, located inside the Stock Exchange building, is open seven days a week and is staffed by wonderful docents who are trained volunteers.

“The Exhibitions and Programs Committee which is currently working under the chairmanship of Nancy Cox presented a magnificent exhibit featuring the merchant pillars of Petersburg,” said McCray. “The history of tobacco, cotton, grain and transportation is shown as the importance of the growth and establishment of Petersburg as a world famous trading place.”

The Cox team also created a timeline of the historical exhibits located on the lower level that can be viewed by anyone visiting the museum.

McCray encourages anyone interested in Petersburg’s wonderful and fascinating history to stop by; it promises you won’t be disappointed.

You are invited to an inauguration ceremony organized by the PPTF on Friday, September 17 at 4 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.

During your visit, visit the rotating exhibition in the hallway of the Visitors Center and see vignettes from St. Petersburg’s past.

The Petersburg Visitor Center, located inside the Stock Exchange building at 15 W. Bank Street, is open Monday through Friday. – Sat 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sun 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Visit for more information.

– Kristi K. Higgins, aka The Social Butterfly columnist, is The Progress-Index’s Trending Topics and Food Q&A reporter. Do you have any advice on trends or local businesses? Contact Kristi (her, her) at [email protected], follow @KHiggins_PI on Twitter, and subscribe to

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