With the addition of The Factory, the KidSenses Museum will become a community destination by providing hands-on, interactive learning experiences for all ages.
We want to provide a framework that stimulates curiosity and gives teens a tool for inquiry.Executive Director, Willard Whitson
March 18, 2021 - RUTHERFORDTON, NC - On Thursday, the Town of Rutherfordton and officials from across the county and state celebrated a new phase of construction on the downtown interactive learning space known as “The Factory.”
The Factory building and adjacent Discovery garden comprise a 16,000 square feet addition to KidSenses, and will significantly increase the capacity of the well-known Rutherford County educational attraction.
In contrast to the original KidSenses space for young children, The Factory will be a “maker space” for teens and preteens, offering learning tools and technologies such as laser cutters, 3D printers, and robotics. When complete, the space will include a culinary studio where teens can test out recipes and learn cooking skills, a workshop with power tools, as well as a tech lab with advanced tools.
“We want to provide a framework that stimulates curiosity and gives teens a tool for inquiry,” said Executive Director Willard Whitson. He says the facility will also provide family-wide and intergenerational educational and mentorship opportunities.
“We anticipate opportunities for older generations to engage young people intellectually and creatively in mentorship roles,” Whitson said. “There are so many talented and smart people who have knowledge and skills they would love to share.”
This is Phase 2 of a three-phase construction project that will further enhance downtown Rutherfordton as a regional destination. The expansion will make KidSenses Museum a whopping 27,000-square-foot complex in the middle of downtown, and it involves renovating downtown’s historic Red Rock Bottling Facility. This phase also includes a modern elevator and stair tower, facade improvements, and the creation of an exterior Discovery Garden.
Town Manager, Doug Barrick, spoke of the impact that The Factory will have on Rutherfordton.
“When we talk about opportunities in our community; for ways for our youth to stay here, to grow, and to find well-paying jobs, those begin in buildings like this”.
Mandi Williams, Deputy Director of KidSenses, says The Factory addition will further the vision originally set forth as the KidSenses Museum was being realized years ago.
“It’s always been the mission of KidSenses to help children understand themselves and their world better through a hands-on learning experience, and I can’t think of any better way to do that other than the expansion we’re standing in today--The Factory. Through this, we can continue to reach and grow with the children in our community.”
The Factory project is another significant piece of the broader, countywide vision of “Rutherford Bound,” an initiative led by the Rutherford County Tourism Development Authority (RCTDA) and other local leaders to revitalize and enhance quality-of-life infrastructure across all of Rutherford County through streetscape enhancements, improved parks and pedestrian areas, and a system of greenways, trails, and river access points.
"The Factory expansion project is what Rutherford Bound is all about,” says Don Cason, the RCTDA Executive Director, “because when we create a better place to live, work, and play, we create a better place to visit." As part of “Rutherford Bound”, The Factory project will provide for greater visibility, livability, and economic opportunity for all of Rutherford County.
Rutherfordton Mayor, Jimmy Dancy, says the KidSenses Museum and this new addition are a long-held dream-come-true. “It wasn’t too many years ago that some concerned citizens decided it would be good to have activities for young people right on Main Street,” said Mayor Dancy. “That was a terrific idea. It speaks volumes about this community, and everyone involved should take pride in what this has become.”