By Terry Konkle, President
Many good questions and comments about our new museum continue to be brought forth by those who are interested in the project. This column will deal with some of the areas that readers might have been considering.
Some people have wondered what the room situation is in the back areas of the new museum. There are six rooms along the back hallway and our lease allows us to use five of them. The room that was an office in the courthouse will remain an office for the museum staff. Next to the office was a kitchenette/meeting room with a Jury room beside it. We have put an archway in the wall between the two rooms to make one large area for research and storage. The jury room had two restrooms in it, and we have removed the facilities and will use the old rest rooms for storage.
The fourth room, a maintenance room with toilet facilities and storage, will remain the same and require very little work. Next to the maintenance room is the old holding cell room which came with a toilet/sink in it. The room is basically cement block with one light and a very small overhead window. We have taken out the toilet/sink, and we will probably use the area for storage of things that are not used very often. It is a very secure room. The back hallway will not be open to museum traffic, but our staff will take people back there for research and other museum functions.
What about restrooms? There are two for public use in rooms off from the hallway between the two main exhibit rooms. Those familiar with the old courthouse will know that they are the same restrooms that were there for courthouse public visitors. There is also a drinking fountain located near the restrooms.
When will the new museum open? We plan on having part of it ready near the end of May with the rest to follow soon after. If all goes well, we will have a “Grand Opening” sometime this summer.
What will happen to the old museum? The old museum building belongs to the city of Rockford, and we are presently leasing it from them. They will decide what will be done with the old museum property. It served us well for many years, but we do not own it.
Many have asked about our fundraising situation. We continue to work on raising the last portion of what we need. The Rockford Public School system has been very supportive, and schools in the district are helping with donations to “Put Us Over The Top”. We have spoken to school parent groups, to school administrators and to students and received positive feedback from all of them. The schools are just another positive example of the caring people who have helped us.
We plan on recognizing in our new museum every individual, every group, every business and every foundation that has helped with our success. Readers should know that the Rockford Area Historical Society has given $55,000 from its funds toward the project. I think it is important for people to realize that we are not just asking for financial and other help, but that we are contributing ourselves. We are the largest donor, but we would be thrilled if someone topped our donation. Go For It!
Finally, anyone with questions, comments or suggestions should feel free to contact me at 616-866-0530.