HARROGATE, Tenn. — The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate opened for the last time Saturday until its massive renovation project finishes in 2020.

The ALLM first opened in 1977, and since then has underwent renovations. The museum is looking toward the future to preserve the past with the biggest expansion yet-- worth $3.6 million.

Natalie Sweet, the program coordinator at ALLM said If those walls could talk, the 42-year-old would tell a tale.

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"They'd definitely tell the story of Abraham Lincoln's life from birth to death, but also the great history of Lincoln Memorial University," Sweet explained.


The community came to get one last look around on Saturday before the doors close for over a year.

Michael Lynch, the director of the ALLM, said the staff wanted the public to get one last peek to see the space as it is.

"We wanted to have a last chance for people to come and see the collection today," Lynch noted.

Once the project is finished, the ALLM will have plenty of space for the massive collection.

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"We'll be opening up with new galleries, a new children's learning lab, and lots of opportunities to bring some of our items from the vault out to the floor," Sweet explained.

The massive renovation will also add a new roof, an elevator, and more vault space.

"We have so much material here in the museum we don't have space to exhibit it all so this is where we keep a lot of it in storage," Lynch motioned toward the acid free boxes and books on shelves.

Employees like archivist Lawrence Mott are ready for the extra room.

"That's going to allow us to reorganize the shelving here so we have more room and the books aren't so crowded together," Mott pointed out.

The irreplaceable items currently in the vault, like William Tecumseh Sherman's first report at the battle of Bull Run while he was still a colonel, will stay put during renovations.

But Lincoln log by Lincoln log, LMU's collection will build a connection through time.

"It's really going to expand the public's access to Lincoln's legacy," Sweet added.

Employees will start organizing and moving the artifacts to different locations on campus on Monday.

It won't take four score and seven years to complete, though. THE ALLM is expected to reopen in late 2020.

While the building is going through the renovation process, staff will continue to work on digital aspects of the library and museum.

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