Work progresses on new Marysville museum

MARYSVILLE — The Marysville Historical Society is one step closer to a permanent home. The society last week opened the doors temporarily to show off the first phase of construction of a new museum, which will house the group’s collection of documents and artifacts.

The exterior shell of a new two-story building now rises from a muddy lot off Armar Road east of downtown Marysville. The society now starts work on the interior, and the process of moving its massive collection. The society’s plan is for the museum to open in its new digs sometime this year.

To get there, however, the society needs to raise more money.

The society has already spent approximately $500,000 on the project, said Steve Muller, a city councilman who has been serving as a pro bono project manager for the museum. The Rotary Club of Marysville was an early supporter with a $250,000 pledge.

Finishing the building interior and getting it ready to open will probably cost the equivalent of $350,000-$400,000 in either cash or donated services, Muller said.

Gamut360 donated utility work, while Cuz Concrete and Septic Services will help with pipes and plumbing, Muller said.

The society’s ultimate goal is to raise $500,000, to cover both finishing the museum, potential cost overruns, and to build a cash cushion for future projects, such as purchasing additional land.

“At the end of the day we’d like to be debt-free,” Muller said.

Ken Cage, president of the Marysville Historical Society, said the plan is to build out the interior of the museum as funds become available.

“You can see we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Cage said, showing off the new building to a small gathering of society members and city officials.

The 8,000-square-foot building has two floors. Downstairs will be the “Rotary Grand Hall” which will be usable for meetings, weddings and other events. One wall will be built to resemble old storefronts, with historical displays in the windows.

The ground floor will also have a small catering kitchen for events, a smaller meeting room and restrooms. The smaller upper story will be a work space and office.

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring, who was on hand at the new museum, said it was a testament to the society to have gotten this far.

“This is what happens when you have people in the community to really push it forward,” Nehring said.

The society has been working on this museum since it acquired the land near Jennings Memorial Park in 1986 for $50,000 raised through bake sales and yard sales.

The museum is currently housed in a cramped space on Third Avenue downtown. Old logging equipment is displayed in one corner. A mid-century dentist’s chair has its own niche. Lining the room is a collection of old telephones and switching equipment that were acquired in 2008 when the Norwesco Telecom Pioneer Club merged into the historical society. Historical photos cover the walls.

More items are kept in a warehouse off-site, while still more are kept in “members’ homes, attics, garages, under beds, sitting in hallways, cluttering up living rooms,” Cage said.

Even with the new space, not everything will be put on display.

“That space up there right now, as big as it looks, isn’t big enough for everything,” Cage said.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com.

How to help

The Marysville Historical Society is raising funds to finish its new museum. You can make cash or in-kind donations on the society’s web page, marysvillehistory.org/fundraising.

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