The new year will not bring the beginning of the end of renovation of the Arlington Historical Museum.
It won’t even bring the end of the beginning.
But, Arlington Historical Society leaders fervently hope, 2022 will go down as the beginning of the beginning.
Historical Society officials for the past year have been taking a two-pronged approach to renovating and possibly expanding the museum, located in the former Hume School in Arlington Ridge. They have engaged a preservation firm to determine what needs to be done to bring the 130-year-old building to modern museum standards, and are working to find the way to pay for it.
“We will require a lot of assistance to complete a project of this magnitude,” Historical Society president Cathy Bonneville Hix said in a year-end message to organization members. “We hope you are as excited about this project as we are.”
After being a COVID victim for 15 months, the museum reopened on the nation’s 245th birthday (July 4, 2021), and the goal – if only a symbolic one – is to complete a top-to-bottom renovation and reimagining of the facility in time for the nation’s 250th.
The Historical Society has been working with Milner Preservation Group (an arm of Arlington-based MTFA Architeture) to develop a phased approach to a project that, in the end, could cost $1.5 million to complete.
“Phase one will include restoring the windows,” which are original to the school, “as well as addressing other immediate preservation requirements and performing other investigative work that will aid us in planning future phases,” Hix said.
The Hume School operated from the 1890s to the 1950s; the Arlington School Board in the early 1960s deeded the property to the Historical Society, with a proviso that it be perpetually used for some educational purpose.
Currently, exhibits are housed largely on the main level of the three-level structure.
“We want to do more,” Hix said during an event last year. “We have more than 4,000 artifacts – this great museum provides [a] window to the past. We don’t want to forget those stories.”
When the proposed renovation project was detailed in the spring, Hix suggested it might take a decade to complete, if broken up in phases. But the prospect of tying the project in with the nation’s looming Semiquincentennial – a word meaning “250 years” that may or may not resonate with the public the way “Bicentennial” did in 1976 – has served as something of a clarion call to keep the process moving expeditiously.
Development of a fund-raising strategy is in the works. In what might be divined as a positive sign that the county government could play a role in funding improvements, three of the five County Board members attended the July 4 reopening.
At the same time, however, chair-for-2021 Matt de Ferranti politely rebuffed entreaties to formally commit county resources to the project.
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Located at 1805 Arlington Ridge Road, the Arlington Historical Museum is open Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. Admission is free.
For information, see the Website at www.arlingtonhistoricalsociety.org.