NOLAN STOUT Daily News-Record
PUBLICATION: Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, VA)
DATE: July 24, 2016
TIMBERVILLE — There just never seemed to be enough room for events at Plains District Memorial Museum.
Bringing in speakers created a challenge for museum officials, especially with finding room for spectators.
“Whenever we had lectures … or special programs, we had to move all the display boards in the museum for seating,” said Helen Smith, chairman of the museum’s board of directors and exhibit coordinator. “We realized that that was a whole lot of unnecessary work.”
After two years and a few bumps in the road, the museum has completed a new lecture room.
The new 1,300-square-foot Carpenter Foundation Community Room has space for chairs and contains two bathrooms, three storage rooms and office space. It is in the back of the museum.
“The museum had a real need for this room,” Smith said.
Design work began more than two years ago, she said. Construction started in February and wrapped up in June.
The room, constructed by Lantz Construction Co. of Broadway, cost $185,000, Smith said.
The museum contracted with Frazier Associates in Staunton for design work.
It is named after the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, which gave a $75,000 grant for the work in 2014 and supports arts projects around the country. Local businesses, museum members and civic organizations also contributed.
“We are a free museum, operated entirely by volunteers,” Smith said. “And totally dependent on the community and the local government for our funding.”
She said Earl Fink, whose wife Sharon is on the museum’s board, contributed an “invaluable” amount of time and work to reduce the project’s cost.
It will be used for museum-sponsored events, such as the monthly lecture series and other special programs, Smith said.
“We feel like this offers an opportunity for us to do some new things that would be important to the whole Plains District Community,” she said.
The first use came on June 5 for a presentation of local servicemen who died in foreign wars.
The museum has an exhibit on local veterans which will run through November, Smith said.
The next use will come during a September reception recognizing donors.
The museum was founded in 1998 and operated in the building housing the Timberville Police Department until 2008, when it moved to the former Rockingham Mill Co. building. The lecture room is the first major expansion of the building since the relocation.
Beverly Garber, the town historian, said the museum has used about half the building at 176 Main St.
“We haven’t even got a good start yet,” he said.
Contact Nolan Stout at 574-6278 or firstname.lastname@example.org