- Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 September 2010 15:20
- Published on Wednesday, 08 September 2010 15:20
- Hits: 431
The effort of an entire decade has been realized. Westmoreland County Museum and Library has bought the old Wakefield Furniture building in downtown Montross.
The old County Museum was built in 1941 and is situated between the old furniture store and the Montross Inn. The museum’s upstairs research library was home to county and Northern Neck Historical Society properties and archives.
The initial intention had been to construct a large new wing that would house Historical Society and county archives and exhibits. By late 2008 the costly proposition had been abandoned and Historical Society bought the Everett and Myrtle Marsh home for use as its research library and headquarters in 2009.
The museum’s acquisition of the former furniture store accomplishes a similar objective, providing additional space for exhibits, offices and reference materials.
Consideration of the costly addition to the museum was prompted by space considerations and the existing building’s inability to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. The building’s research materials were located upstairs and downstairs exhibit space was very limited.
The old museum is home to a very large painting of the Earl of Chatham, William Pitt. The Pitt portrait will remain where it hangs, providing a focal point for museum visitors. The facility’s landscaped grounds and Presidential Garden will not have to be disturbed by construction activity and the initially envisioned large addition to the museum.
Instead, the museum and Visitor Center will be accorded greater visibility, given the frontage on State Route 3. Westmoreland County Museum Board of Directors President Susan Ripol addressed that and other considerations in a telephone interview earlier this week.
“If we can get the museum more in tune with the Town of Montross, it can become a focal point,” Ripol said.
The spacious facility is ideally suited for exhibits and Ripol says the initial focus will be concentrated on the seafood, farming and lumber industries that were historic economic mainstays in Westmoreland. Artifacts associated with those industries will be displayed in the old furniture store.
“The main part of the Wakefield building’s downstairs will be a general store in the front,” Ripol said.
“There will be a meeting room in the back and the exhibits will be upstairs. There will be stairs on the outside of the building and the elevator will be installed inside.
“There will have to be a lot of renovation. We want to open all the doors and windows that have been painted over.”
Anyone wanting to donate money or work as a volunteer on the extensive renovation effort can reach the Museum at (804) 493-8440. The museum’s presence in the former furniture store will have become visible as soon as the Oct. 2 Montross Fall Festival.
During the Fall Festival event, the renovation effort will necessarily be touted as a work in progress. In the event that on-site activity sparks interest, prospective volunteers will be gratefully received.