By Sarah Shurge – The mission of the Wayne Historical Society is to display, preserve, and promote the history of the City of Wayne. But what happens when the building that is dedicated to preserving history, is in dire need of repairs?
With holes in the roof, water spots on the carpet, and buckets strategically placed to catch water leaking from the ceiling, the museum desperately needed help.
“The museum was in need and it was worth saving,” said Albert Damitio, Wayne Historical Society board member and former Historical Commission Chair. “The County Commissioner really went to bat for us.”
Damitio, County Commissioner and former Wayne Mayor Al Haidous, Wayne Mayor John Rhaesa, City Manager Lisa Nocerini, City Engineer Mike Buiten, Building Inspector Paul Vaughn, President of the Society Nicole Conklin, and Tyler Moll who runs the museum, all participated in helping the museum win a grant from Wayne County.
Due to the great teamwork of so many people, the Wayne Historical Society won a $191,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).
The CDBG is one of the longest-running programs of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that funds local community development activities such as infrastructure development and public facility improvements.
The museum was able to receive the grant because it’s a historical building and is used to help the public. “It’s a miracle we were able to get the grant to be able to preserve our building the way we need to,” said Damitio. “That way we can do displays for youth groups, schools, and everyone to come in and do research.”
The grant will be used for many much-needed repairs to the museum including repairing the roof and gutters.
“This was a great saving grace,” said Moll, who helped write the grant. “Everything was last done in 1986. We have to put out buckets when it rains. This will really revamp the place and give it life for another hopefully 50 years.”
In order to maintain the building’s accurate structure, the grant will also go towards repairing the brickwork in a historically accurate way. Along with replacing the broken air conditioning unit and getting a new furnace.
The grant will also be used to update the inside of the museum with new flooring and carpeting.
“This is going to help us preserve our past and save our future,” said Conklin.
The two-story building was constructed in 1878 and maintains more than 100 exhibits.
“These repairs will allow more presentations and special presentations that we can do in the museum. Especially for the kids to learn about the history of the area.” said Damitio.
The first project on the agenda is replacing the 35 year old roof before winter.
The county will bid out all the projects that need to be done, pick the contractors, and schedule dates.
Because the county is in charge of scheduling, there isn’t a set timeline for the projects but Moll believes the roof will be done before winter, and the rest of the projects will be done before spring.
“This will ensure that the museum stays open for years to come,” said Moll.
Receiving the grant money will also allow the Wayne Historical Society to plan for its future in more ways than just repairs.
“This grant will also allow us to do some money saving, and possibly give us the opportunity to get an on-hands director. That would allow more hours for the museum to be open.” said Damitio.
The museum is open Wednesday 10 a.m. – 6p.m. and Thursday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m..
If you want to learn about events, fundraisers or more information about the museum, you can visit the website at facebook.com/waynehistoricalsociety. Or call (734)722-0113.