SIDNEY — The Shelby County Historical Society (SCHS) has added a second building to its facilities.
Late last week, it completed the purchase of the structure at 115 North St., which is across the street from its current home in the Ross Historical Center at 201 N. Main Ave. The acquisition was made possible by a bank loan, and the society will eventually launch a fundraising campaign to support the purchase and necessary renovations.
No goal has yet been set, because, SCHS officials said, they are still considering how to make the best use of the new space and what kind of renovations that would entail. When they know what the costs are likely to be, they’ll announce the funding goal.
“We’ve been talking about expanding since 2007,” said Director Tilda Phlipot about why the purchase was necessary.
“Then the economy went south and everything was put on hold,” added Treasurer Tom Seving.
The society had purchased property along North Street immediately to the west of the Ross Center several years ago and had looked into building a significant addition to the center. Then the board learned early this year that the former Lochard building was on the market.
“For the same square footage that we were going to build new, we can get across the street for much less money, even including renovations,” Phlipot said.
“Property acquisition opportunities sometimes come along only once in a generation,” he said. “When the former Lochard building became available, the board investigated its feasibility … the capabilities of the building and its location met several criteria the board considered important.”
Most recently the home of TWTshirts, the building was constructed in the early 1950s by the Lochard Inc. to serve as a hardware and appliance store. It later was the home of S&E Typewriter. The structure will give the society an additional 3,000 square feet of space for exhibits, lectures, educational activities and other programming, and, eventually, 3,000 square feet of basement space for storage.
“(Our buying it) is going to preserve a downtown building,” said President Julie Gilardi.
The society has been in need of an environmentally controlled space for some time.
“Certain artifacts require environmentally controlled space to ensure their preservation for future generations,” said Vice President Linda DeVelvis.
“We want to preserve the artifacts of Sidney,” Gilardi added.
The society also has been hoping for many years to establish an industrial heritage center in which its historical heavy equipment can be displayed. The former Lochard building may meet those goals.
The society has recently completed a strategic planning and visioning process. As a result, it has formulated a new mission: “To actively engage and educate our community to preserve and promote local history” and a new vision: “To become a center of excellence where we build for tomorrow by understanding the past,” according to Secretary Rich Wallace.
“The board has decided to concentrate on areas where it has shown demonstrated expertise,” he said. “These are programming, research and writing, exhibits and artifact collection and preservation. The goal is for these four areas to become centers of excellence to an even greater degree than they are now. The board is currently evaluating the use of the (former Lochard) building for a variety of purposes.”
Reach the writer at 937-548-4824. Follow her on Twitter @PASpeelmanSDN.