Buckley museum gets renovation, could become official visitor center

Work is shaping up on the Buckley Museum's main building renovations as work crews busily insulate and panel unfinished walls.

The museum sits on River Avenue across from Buckley Hall, run by sisters Martha Olson and Lyn Rose. It contains thousands of items donated from private collections, ranging in size from a small clothing iron to a first-generation hand-pulled fire engine. The back room and upstairs area re-create businesses and households from various eras in the city's more than 110-year history. Across the street sits a log cabin and lookout post, separate exhibits under the museum's management.

The renovation will result in the museum's ability to be considered an official visitor center for Buckley and the surrounding area, including Mount Rainier National Park.

"The museum has long been an unofficial visitor's center for the city," Mayor Pat Johnson said. "Now we'll be able to make it official."

The renovation project was prompted by a tricky toilet. After plumbing problems forced the museum managers and city leadership to look at fixing the building's bathroom, they considered upgrading the facility to be compliant with the American With Disabilities Act, Johnson said. Such an upgrade would allow the museum to become a federally-recognized visitor center. However, the existing bathroom sits at the end of a narrow hallway in a cramped room that shares the building's furnace, making ADA-compliant modifications impossible.

The solution was to expand a portion of the building formerly reserved for outdoor exhibits into an additional indoor section. It will include the ADA-compliant bathroom, donated by Marydale and Tom Brooks in memory of their mother. Another section of the expansion will contain a newspaper press and copies of the Buckley Banner, the city's original newspaper.

The project is being completed at minimal cost to the city. Members of a volunteer work crew include inmates of the Buckley jail completing community service. Materials have been donated by Arrow Lumber, the Wilkeson quarry and Thiele Construction. The only cost the city has incurred is in electricians' services.

The project is being conducted on a "when it's done" basis due to volunteer labor, with estimated completion in mid-July.

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