Rankin Museum of American Heritage - Atlas Obscura

Rankin Museum of American Heritage

Ellerbe, North Carolina

A collection of memorabilia from the estate of former professional wrestler Andre the Giant. 

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The Rankin Museum of American Heritage in Ellerbe, North Carolina, is an above-average local museum, with a well-curated collection of artifacts from the local region, various periods, and stuffed fauna from around the world. There are some nice pieces related to the history of the area as a commercial center, the history of Richmond County as a hub for NASCAR racing, and a very large collection of Native American artifacts. 

But the main event at the Rankin Museum is a wing dedicated to Ellerbe’s most famous former resident: André René Roussimoff, better known as Andre the Giant. He settled in the area in the 1970s and purchased a large ranch where he could raise longhorn cattle and escape the limelight of his public career. Roussimoff developed strong friendships with many of the locals, who adopted him into their circles and allowed him to just be himself (all seven feet and four inches of himself).

After he died, he left all of his land to his daughter, who has since sold the property. But all of the items inside the house were left to close friends Frenchy Bernard and Jackie McAuley. Frenchy had helped to maintain the property while Andre was away and the two had a close friendship. Frenchy’s wife, Jackie, worked with the Rankin Museum to curate the items they inherited from Andre to create the wing of wrestling memorabilia that is now on display.

Know Before You Go

There's not a whole lot in Ellerbe, but there are still folks around town at the local shops who knew Andre during his time there.  There also aren't a lot of food options in the area, so plan to bring your lunch or head down the road to nearby Rockingham if you need to grab food on your outing.

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