Franklin County Historical Museum expansion coming soon – maybe by 2022?


Pieces from the collection of the Franklin County Historical Museum are scattered throughout the county.

Some are stored in the basement of the Pasco police station.

Some are tucked away in the Kahlotus Grange Hall.

The port of Pasco stores objects for the museum. Former members of the museum’s board have opened their barn space.

The new Franklin County Historical Museum annex is a two-story steel building with 5,180 square feet on the ground floor and a 622 square foot upper mezzanine. The project is valued at $ 809,352. (Courtesy of the Franklin County Historical Society & Museum)

Only about 10% of the museum’s collection is on display, said Damien Davis, the museum’s part-time executive director since January 2021. Davis has also served as director of the Pasco Farmers Market and interim executive director of the Downtown Pasco Development Authority.

“Franklin County, with its rich agricultural history, means there have been big donations. As people have donated items and we have received them over the years, we have not had a place to house the donations. We really wanted a place to centralize it, ”Davis said.

That’s why the Franklin County Historical Society plans to build a 5,802 square foot annex behind their museum at 305 N. Fourth Ave. in Pasco. It is not known when construction will begin on the $ 809,352 project, as it has experienced delays.

Expansion projects

It is important to preserve the history of the people of Franklin County, said Glen Allison, president of the Franklin County Historical Society. He’s a retired history professor.

He stressed that the role of society is to preserve the stories of residents.

“When I was teaching history, I did my best to tell stories about real people who showed up at different events. … Real people are a big deal to me. To tell their stories. This is what we are doing here, ”he said.

The new annex will be a two-story steel building with 5,180 square feet on the main level and 622 square feet on the upper mezzanine.

The company acquired three plots behind the museum and leveled the houses on them to build the annex at 423 W. Bonneville St. Romm Construction of Pasco is the builder.

About three quarters of the annex will be used for the conservation and reception of new collectibles, preservation, restoration and storage. The rest will include museum exhibits. The new building will also be used to host events.

Two years ago, the historical society launched a fundraising campaign, raising around $ 444,000 which, combined with a state grant, was enough for the building and the surplus for the little things that inevitably popped up. said Davis.

But the state grant of $ 173,404 through the Washington State Historical Society could be at risk due to a recent Washington Supreme Court ruling related to the payment of wages in effect throughout the construction project. , rather than during the various phases of the project, said Davis.

This could increase the overall cost of the project by 25% to 33%, putting grant dollars at risk, Davis said.

“We are evaluating it at the moment,” he said. “It’s just another obstacle in the race.”

The pandemic has also created additional challenges.

Project costs fell from $ 540,000 to $ 809,000, increasing the budget for the annex and leaving a gap of $ 240,000.

The museum applied for a building permit in January and received approval in August because building codes changed in February, Davis said.

“All of our plans and drawings reflected the old code. … We had to wait until August to point out the i’s, the t’s crossed out, ”he said. It also cost the nonprofit more money to revamp their plans.

“We were hoping to be done early this summer. Patience is a virtue and we learn the hard way, ”he said, adding that the city of Pasco and Franklin County have provided a“ ton of support ”for the project.

To close the funding gap, the historical society plans to launch a secondary fundraising campaign while the annex is under construction.

Franklin County Historical Society and Museum board members include back row, left to right: Damien Davis (executive director), Richard Scheuermann (museum volunteer), Keith Snider (board treasurer), Nick Lippold (board member) and LaMar Palmer (board member). Front Row, Left to Right: Jeanne Hailey (Board Member), Andy Johnson (Board Member), Sandy Johnson (Board Secretary) and Glen Allison (Board Chair). (Photo by Kristina Lord)

Davis said he hopes to assemble the hull before winter sets in.

Structural steel and some building materials are already featured on the property.

But Davis doesn’t know when construction will begin because “the traders are completely reserved,” and the museum corporation is awaiting the blessing of the State Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation. But if the company isn’t using the state grant dollars, this step isn’t necessary, Davis said.

Currently, excavators are booked for up to nine weeks, he said. Completion is scheduled for 2022.

Create a complex

The proposed annex is part of the long-term goal of the museum company to create a museum complex.

The Franklin County Historical Society was established in 1968 even before it had a building. He took over the 5,000 square foot Carnegie Library in 1983. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“It’s a big building that we have. But there are things we can’t do here because we can’t change the building, ”Allison said.

Looking to the future, the association purchased the 1,000 square foot Blue House next to the museum at 311 N. Fourth Ave. for $ 158,800 at the end of 2019.

It will be used as a passage point to check the objects before adding them to the museum. Other future possibilities include transforming it into a genealogy research chalet or a student-run café and art shop.

Plans are also underway to digitize the museum’s collection and launch a new website, which will offer courses based on the program to educators. It’s a big business because there are 100,000 pieces in the collection, Davis said.

“We are re-cataloging everything we have in the museum,” Damien said.

The role of the museum is to educate, but the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way it reaches people, Davis said. Field trips and school visits were no longer options.

“Our goal is to modernize and take this new step. We are delighted with it. There will be challenges that come with it – space being the biggest, ”he said.

Even after the annex is built, there will not be enough room to house the entire collection. But the historical society hopes to centralize the collection in one place.

“It’s something we’ve been working on for about a decade,” Davis said.

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Patrick F. Williams

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