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Crowded museum kicks off renovation

Staff writer

Marion Historical Museum is overflowing with artifacts that tell the county’s story, but lately that’s become too much of a good thing.

Its building has run out of room and is in critical need of maintenance.

The situation is dire enough that new items cannot be added until renovation efforts set to start in June are finished.

“We can’t do anything until we have more storage space,” board president Peggy Blackman said. “We’re attacking the basement first because that’s space we are not using because it gets water in it.”

The board planned to rent or purchase annex space downtown with $17,200 raised through an auction of classic cars donated by former Peabody resident Marvin Larsen, but the few that would have been suitable were taken.

“I don’t regret that because it just means our community has continued to grow,” said Blackman. “It’s a win-win situation because it has forced us to take a better look at what we do have.”

Funding the effort will be a challenge. The museum has about $30,000 raised by its patron program and other fund-raisers, but renovations will exceed that amount.

The board is pursuing grants and seeking donations or a possible corporate sponsorship, Blackman said.

The museum already houses a trove of hardy artifacts in its basement, the exterior doors are so warped they let in rainwater and pests.

Volunteers will help move artifacts stored in the basement off site in June so remodeling efforts can start.

The board’s first priority is to replace exterior doors so warped they are impossible to open without help, but let in water and mice.

“After that, when the next rainfall comes, we will have to see where it’s leaking,” director Aubrey Wheeler said pointing out spots in the walls that were stuffed with rags. “We suspect it’s in this area.”

Floors and walls then will be cleaned and leveled with new stucco and the ceiling patched.

Every effort will be made to duplicate materials already present in the historic building.

Some changes will restore features that were taken out in previous renovations.

An interior stairway that connected the main floor to the basement was removed and will need to be rebuilt if the space is to be usable.

The hillside where the building is located will be re-leveled and landscaped to divert water away from the building.

“We are trying to make it look as it looked before it fell apart,” Wheeler said.

Last modified April 29, 2021

 

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