Butler Museum Renovations Soon to Be Underway
The Butler Museum will be closed for renovations starting January 15.
After several years of planning, the Butler Museum is finally getting a facelift. Starting January 15, the museum will be closed for renovations, and is expected to open again by next winter.
The Butler Museum, which mainly houses historic artifacts and the genealogy of the borough, will be having construction done on its foundation which, according to the committee that manages the museum, is badly in need of repair.
According to Peggy Spranzani, one of the Co-Chairpersons of the Historic Committee, the main building was built in 1889 while the south end was built in 1907 with railroad ties as its foundation.
After close to a century, the foundation has become too worn down to ignore, Spranzani said. "In the 1990s the ties began to deteriorate and we noticed the building began to tilt a little bit at that end," said Spranzani. In addition to the foundation, the building also needs updated access for people with disabilities, she said.
The committee applied to be included in the National Register of Historic Places so that the museum could apply for grants to help with the costs. The National Register of Historic Places is a government list of historical buildings and places worthy of preservation.
"We got on the historical register in 2001 and that opens a lot of doors to look for grant money," said Spranzani.
But by the time a grant proposal could be put together, the structural problems were worse than ever. The cost of the structural stabilization will cost over $307,000, Spranzani said. The Borough of Butler provides 20 percent of the total costs, according to Spranzani, while the Morris County Historic Preservation Trust provides the other 80 percent.
During the renovations, the volunteer committee will begin moving the exhibits into the rooms in the northern end of the building. "The contractor will be on board March 1. He has about six or seven months to do the work. And then we have about a month to two months to put the exhibits back again. So we hope to be open by December," said Spranzani.
The committee is hoping to keep the resource center open for personnel, but that will depend on the contractor's assessment.
Despite the time the museum will be closed, Spranzani is enthusiastic about what can be done.
"I'm glad it's closing for a while. I do slide presentations for schools and groups and I would like to get into PowerPoint. So what we would possibly do in our off time is take our slides, our books, our negatives, our pictures and digitize them," she said. "I hope that when we open up again, we'll be able to be open more days of the week."
Spranzani also said she hopes the renovations help increase the number of visitors the museum receives.
"I hope to see our numbers increase to 600 people a year," she said.