A capital funding campaign launched by the Laurens County Museum Association received a huge boost recently with a million-dollar gift from the estate of a late benefactor.

LCMA President Carolyn Beasley Shortt announced this week that the late Antony C. “Tony “ Harper left a $1 million bequest to the Laurens County Museum Association. Mr. Harper passed away on September 23, 2019 after a year-long battle with cancer. He was an early and generous supporter of LCMA in its efforts to establish a county-wide museum to preserve the rich history of Laurens County and to promote educational and economic opportunities in the county.

“LCMA is humbled and challenged by Mr. Harper’s most generous gift,” Mrs. Shortt said. “The funding will go a long way towards the completion of the long-awaited Witherspoon Building in downtown Laurens. LCMA still has funding challenges, but the Harper gift provides a great start towards the completion of our dream of a viable and sustainable museum to serve all of Laurens County.”

The $1 million bequest provided to LCMA will be particularly useful because, in his donation, Mr. Harper did not identify a specific use for the funds. This will allow LCMA to target the funds for its most pressing and specific needs.

“The LCMA Board of Directors is still in the planning stage for specific uses of the funds but it is very likely that early expenditures will involve the installation of an elevator and roof replacement at the Witherspoon Building and the adjacent Dominick Building,” Shortt said.

Tony Harper’s early support of the Laurens County Museum developed primarily through a mutual interest in the collection and preservation of Native American artifacts. He visited LCMA’s existing facility on West Laurens Street and came away impressed with the artifact collection already in LCMA’s collection. He also assisted LCMA in purchasing the artifact collection of Dr. John R. Crawford III. The Crawford collection is one of the largest and most complete of its type in the country.

Mr. Harper was a resident of Greenville. After graduation from the University of Georgia, he joined the family’s business, Harper Brothers Office Supply and Furniture, and he was recognized for his many contributions to growth in Greenville. Mr. Harper’s family has also supported Presbyterian College for many years.

The Harper gift is by far the largest donation received by LCMA in its history, but President Shortt stressed that the most generous gift will not meet all of the varied and pressing funding needs of the organization.

“Mr. Harper’s gift was a generous and much-needed boost to our capital campaign,” she said, “but our Board has identified capital needs approaching two million dollars. LCMA will continue to work through its Capital Campaign to raise funds for the Laurens County Museum.”

The Laurens County Museum Association was established in 2005 with the primary purpose of establishing a county museum. LCMA does not have a full-time paid staff and volunteers have led in the efforts for fund raising and programs completed so far. In addition to the establishment of facilities to house local artifacts, LCMA has provided educational and historic programs ranging from the American Revolution to in-depth assessments of Native American artifacts.