By Beth Dodd:
The Victor Lowell Thomas Museum has recently been awarded a Colorado State Historic Fund (SHF) grant for $35,000. This grant, along with matching funds of $16,500 raised locally, will fund the restoration and repair of the exterior brick work on the east side of the museum’s Reynolds Block building. The grant will also pay for rock work around the doors and windows, and restore three north side doorways. Work should begin later this year.
This newest grant award is part of the museum’s fundraising campaign for their next major phase of building restoration. The museum has already invested $750,000 to complete the restoration of the basement and a sagging wall, including the placement of new support beams to replace those lost in a fire back in the 1950s. The construction of a new floor in the back half of the building’s first story has been finished as well. Support columns were added to support the second floor and the roof above it. The outside of the museum building has also received much needed TLC. All of the Reynolds Block’s windows, both upstairs and downstairs, were refurbished during the winter of 2010-11.
The old store front was restored to its 1899 appearance. The rotting wooden window sills and a low wall that was not original to the front of the building were swapped for new full length windows and new exterior paint. Before the restoration, the upstairs windows of the museum had been covered up. They have now been replaced with UV filtering, double-pane storm windows. This change has made the rooms brighter and restored structural integrity. It has also greatly reduced the amount of dust coming in through the old leaky windows, creating a better environment for the museum’s artifacts. Wall plaques identify the donors of each window. A dedicated group of contractors completed all of the work under budget and well within the time planned. The team included architect Tim Stroh, grant administrator and preservation consultant Charise Boomsma, and general contractor Teppa, LLC.
To complete the second half of the building restoration, the museum board must raise another $750,000 to pay for interior work including the installation of running water, heat, restrooms, and an elevator for ADA access. The museum also plans to restore its original tin ceilings, wooden floors, plaster walls, and skylights. The original grocery store meat counters are still in the building as well, and the museum would like to restore and refit them as exhibit cases. A climate controlled museum storage room for the archives is also on the wish list. A Transportation Enhancement grant through the Colorado Department of Transportation and sponsored by Teller County, already awarded in 2010, will fund a new roof. If you would like to visit or to donate money for the restoration of the Victor Lowell Thomas Museum, you can find more information at www.VictorColorado.com or email museum@VictorColorado.com.