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Ava Gardner Museum

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A Fan Favorite, the Ava Gardner Heritage Tour, Will be a Part of the Ava Gardner Festival

Visitors Will be Shown Points of Interest in Ava's Hometown

Smithfield, NC, July 31, 2010 --( Each year the Ava Gardner Museum celebrates Ava's life and career by hosting the Ava Gardner Festival. This annual event includes heritage tours, screenings of classic Ava Gardner films, and special exhibits.

This year’s festival will kickoff during the Ava Gardner Festival Gala on Friday evening, October 8th and will continue Saturday, October 9th from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. The 2010 Ava Gardner Festival marks the 10th anniversary of the Ava Gardner Museum.

On Saturday, October 9th, heritage tours will be scheduled throughout the day. Visitors will be shown points of interest in Ava's hometown and will end with a visit to her gravesite at Sunset Memorial Park.

The Little Brown Jug
The Little Brown Jug, located at 100 West Market Street, has long been The corner bar in Downtown Smithfield. Earlier this year there was a threat that The Little Brown Jug may be torn down for the new bridge to be built over the Neuse River, but thankfully, the distinctive building was saved. Jack Gardner, Ava's brother, built it in the 1940s.

Howell Theatre
The Howell Theatre, located at 141 South Third Street, was built in 1922 by Mr. Rudolph Howell as a one-screen cinema, seating approximately 600 movie-goers. It was built in the heart of downtown Smithfield, NC, becoming an integral part of the downtown business community.

In 1932, Ava's mother, Mollie, took Ava to see Red Dust starring Clark Gable and Jean Harlow at the Howell Theatre in downtown Smithfield. Little did Mollie or Ava realize that Ava would later star with Gable in the successful remake of this picture: Mogambo.

Ava Gardner’s Birthplace
Ava Gardner was born at 740 Avenue Road in the Grabtown area of the Brogden community southeast of Smithfield. As a toddler, she climbed out onto the porch roof and had to be coaxed back into the house with the promise of a bowl of peaches. Today the home is owned by the Allen family and is their residence.

Brogden Teacherage
From ages 2 to 13, Ava and her family lived in the “teacherage”---a boarding house for young lady teachers at the local Brogden school. Jonas Gardner labored as the caretaker and Mollie Gardner served as the cook for the residents of the house. The Gardners lived here until effects of the Great Depression forced the Teacherage to close.

In the early 1980s Dr. Tom Banks saved the Teacherage from being demolished, and operated the first Ava Gardner Museum within this building during the summer for nine years. Located at 7209 Brogden Road, this home is owned by the Wayne White family and is their residence.

Sunset Memorial Park
Ava Gardner requested that her remains return home to be laid to rest along side her parents and siblings. Ava’s gravesite is located one mile from the museum, at the intersection of Highways 70 Business and 210.

Heritage tour passes are $10.00 and will be available for purchase October 8th.

For accommodations, two local hotels are offering special Ava Gardner Festival discounts. The Best Western Smithfield Inn (919-989-4047) is offering a special rate of $64.00 + tax and the Sleep Inn & Suites of Smithfield (919-209-2360) is offering a 15% discount on rates. Call the hotel directly and mention the Ava Gardner Festival to take advantage of these special discounts.

For more information about the festival, including Festival Package rates, please call the museum at 919-934-5830.

The Ava Gardner Museum is located in downtown Smithfield, at 325 E. Market Street and more information may be found on the museum website, or by calling 919-934-5830. The museum is open Monday-Saturday, 9am-5pm and Sunday 2pm-5pm with admission of $6.00 adults, $5.00 seniors and groups and $4.00 children.

Contact Information
Ava Gardner Museum
Jessica Meadows Hammett

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