Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas
In 2017, the Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas opened in downtown Brevard. The museum is dedicated to honoring the veterans of our armed services from World War I to the present. In the six years since its opening, the museum has grown from a modest initiative to a truly impressive and ever-growing collection of valuable and meaningful military artifacts – from uniforms, medals and citations to a restored 1943 Willy’s Army jeep set against the backdrop of a military APO (American Post Office). We recently caught up with Emmett Casciato, founder and curator of the Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas for an insightful Q & A.
Emmett, how did you become interested in collecting military memorabilia?
When did you make the decision to open a museum?
How did this Museum that we’re sitting in today become a reality?
My wife Toni and I moved to Brevard in December of 2015, and I brought all my stuff from Florida. We built a house in Connestee, and I asked the manager there if I could do a Memorial Day display in the clubhouse. It was through that event that I met Ken Corn who introduced me to Tom Bugala and together we started to formulate a plan to start a museum. As it turns out, 2016 was the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme in WWI. I ended up doing a display at the American Legion. Frank Duckworth then helped me get a three week exhibition at the historic Aethelwold Hotel. You know what the amazing thing was about that? In 1920, the WWI veterans met in the lobby of the Aethlewold Hotel and formed their American Legion Post 88. After that, I got an email from the Transylvania Heritage Museum, they said, ‘We’d love to have you for our spring exhibit,’ and I’m like, ‘Wow! Three months!
In 2016, Larry Chapman told me he thought he could help get us this building (the annex to the Transylvania County Courthouse). At the Memorial Day parade in 2016, Larry shook my hand and the key to this building was in it. Six years later we’re still here. I was glad that Toni got to see the museum become a reality before she passed away. I remarried in 2021 to Jayne McCrary and she has also been so supportive of the museum.
The breadth of collection you have here is truly astonishing…
Of course, we would have never gotten to this point without the help of all the dedicated volunteers who’ve contributed their time and expertise. They are truly the backbone of this museum, and I can’t imagine where we’d be without them. They are just as passionate about our mission as I am.
There are so many fascinating artifacts to discover here. What are five “can’t miss” artifacts that you believe visitors should see?
What do you personally want visitors to know about the Veterans Military History of the Carolinas?