KERNERSVILLE, NC – The Körner’s Folly Foundation and the Town of Kernersville are excited to break ground on the site of the new Visitors Center at Körner’s Folly, located at 411 South Main Street in Kernersville. This site is adjacent to the historic house built in 1880 by visionary artist and designer Jule Gilmer Körner. The resulting Visitors Center will function as a community gathering space, providing improved amenities and increased accessibility for visitors to historic Körner’s Folly while also serving as a beautiful introduction to historic downtown Kernersville.
Over the past decade, increased visitation to the historic house museum, rising demand for educational programming, and the limits of the space currently in use by the Körner’s Folly Foundation’s operations have necessitated investment in a facility expansion. These findings were confirmed by a stakeholder survey conducted in 2017. A new facility will allow the Körner’s Folly Foundation to grow sustainably and serve a wider audience in more meaningful ways, while continuing to support and enhance the organizations, businesses, and individuals that make the Town of Kernersville a great place to live and work.
The Visitors Center at Körner’s Folly will provide the Town with a central point for delivery of tourism information, include rotating exhibition space for historical artifacts, flexible meeting and program space, public restrooms, a media room, increased office space, collections artifact storage, a gift shop, and paved parking for tour buses and cars. The center will allow for more diverse programming and will improve access for persons with disabilities.
Construction on the new building will take approximately 10 months. The Körner’s Folly Foundation anticipates being operational in the new facility within the next year. Winston-Salem-based firm West and Stem Architects PLLC has provided design services, and construction will be completed by Wilson-Covington Construction Company.
The Visitors Center groundbreaking is the result of a capital campaign conducted by the Körner’s Folly Foundation. The Foundation engaged professional campaign consultants,
including CapDev in Winston-Salem. The campaign has been successful in securing funding for the Visitors Center as well as a sustainability fund to support maintenance of the new facility and continued restoration of the 22-room historic house museum.
In 2019, the Town of Kernersville and the Körner’s Folly Foundation established a public-private partnership to enable development of the new Visitors Center. The Town committed funding of $750,000, to be fulfilled contingent upon the Körner’s Folly Foundation raising the remaining funds required to complete construction on the multi-million-dollar project. The State of North Carolina and Forsyth County have also supported this effort.
Funding resulting from the Foundation’s capital campaign was secured in part via grants from local and state foundations, including the BB&T/Truist Foundation, Marion Stedman Covington
Foundation, the Kernersville Foundation, the Lawrence E. & Etta Lea Pope Foundation, the Lib Burns Trust, the Richard & Marie Reynolds Foundation, the Wells Fargo Foundation, the Winston-Salem Foundation, the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office, and the Kernersville Historic Preservation Society. Generous gifts from private donors and local businesses also played a significant role in achieving campaign fundraising goals.
As part of the groundbreaking ceremonies, the Körner’s Folly Foundation has announced that the Visitors Center will be named in honor of John and Bobbie Wolfe, hereafter referred to as
the John and Bobbie Wolfe Visitors Center at Körner’s Folly. The naming is in honor of the notable impact that the couple has had on the organization through many decades. The Wolfes were one of the families who stepped in to “save” Kӧrner’s Folly from destruction in the 1970’s, and they both have served in many critical volunteer capacities since to ensure the preservation
of the house museum for the enjoyment of the public.
“The vision of the Körner’s Folly Foundation is to be a place of connection between the pastand the future, and to help people connect with one another,” says Körner’s Folly Foundation Executive Director Suzanna Ritz Malliett. “We are thrilled to begin construction on this longawaited project that will help the organization further our strategic goals of widening access and deepening connection to this valuable historical and cultural resource, while also contributing significantly to local economic development.”
The fundraising campaign for the John and Bobbie Wolfe Visitors Center at Körner’s Folly continues, with donations supporting programming and operations at the center. Gifts are tax-deductible. More information at www.kornersfolly.org/donate.