The Buckley Foothills Museum is a treasure trove of historical artifacts, primary documents, and creative displays — all in a itty bitty living space.
That’s why the museum’s volunteers are looking to apply for a state grant that would allow them to build a new facility next to the museum to not only increase their storage capacity, but also give visitors room to research and groups the ability to hold educational programs and discussions.
“We have finagled and worked this building until there is no more room anywhere,” said Jean Contreras, the museum’s treasurer, adding that their office space in the back is now practically unusable. “None of us can move unless one of us gets up and leaves.”
This wasn’t a split-second decision; the museum has been collecting funds for such a project for years, and the pot has grown to around $75,000.
Luckily, the grant they’re applying for — the state’s Heritage Capital Projects grant — has some financial perks.
“We have to pay for everything, and if it’s under $100,000, we get 50 percent of it back,” Contreras said. “It’s a reimbursement.”
If the project ends up exceeding that cap, the museum will be rebated a third of the cost of the project, she continued.
The building won’t end up being that large, as it has to be built on the same parcel of land as the museum. Current plans are to build it just north of the museum, where a gazebo currently sits, though volunteers aim to keep the gazebo as well.
“We want it to be a multi-purpose room downstairs so that we can reconfigure it to do jut about anything we want that we can’t do now,” said Nancy Stratton, a museum board member.
Upstairs, then, would be available for people to peruse old photos, family trees, and newspapers for research.
As for the outside of the building, “we hope to make [it] look compatible with the rest of the historic area,” Contreras said.
Besides the need for space, there’s another important reason the museum needs a new building — fire protection.
Among the Foothill Museum’s collections are key pieces of Buckley history, like the original Buckley Banner newspapers from 1892 to the 1970s and the Buckley/White River High School yearbooks; the museum has been unable to install ways to protect these treasures from fire, since retrofitting the museum with sprinklers would be “super, super expensive,” Stratton said.
To apply for this grant, the museum must first be deemed eligible, and paperwork for that process is due April 23, while the actual grant application is due June 25. Then, the Washington State Historical Society will rank the projects by August 2020 and send that list to the state legislature. Once in the hands of lawmakers, they’ll then determines Washington’s capital budget, which provides the funds for this grant.
Contracts with the WSHS will then be signed by July 2021, and projects must be completed by June 30, 2023, or risk not receiving their reimbursement.
SHOW YOUR SUPPORT
If the Foothills Museum is to receive this grant, it’s likely going to need support from its visitors and Buckley residents as a way to show the state the museum thriving and deserves to have their project funded.
Letters submitted to the museum will be attached to the paperwork turned into the state later next month; they can be mailed to the museum (130 North River Avenue, Buckley), dropped off during open hours (Sundays and Tuesdays through Thursdays from noon to 4 p.m.), or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 23.
Of course, the museum is always looking for more volunteers and contributors to support local history and culture, especially those with computer skills and — if they receive grant money — people who are able to lift and carry items out of storage into the new building. To volunteer or ask for more information, call 360-829-1291.