Restoration Efforts Continue at Faulkner County Museum

Lynita Langley-Ware of Greenbrier, director of the Faulkner County Museum, discusses the historic windows at the museum that need to be restored. The museum recently received a grant from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program to complete the project, which also includes replacement of the front door and painting the building.

CONWAY — Restoration of the Faulkner County Museum continues.

A new roof has been installed, repairs to stucco and masonry on the building have been made, and the mold that forced the closing of the museum for nine months has been eradicated. Next up is the restoration of the building’s historic windows, replacement of the front door and painting the outside of the structure, which was built as the Faulkner County Jail in 1896.

“The Faulkner County Museum Commission and I, personally, are excited to be open to the public again after our nine-month closure,” said Lynita Langley-Ware,

museum director since 2001. “We are working diligently to preserve this building, inside and out, so that the people of Faulkner County and all of Arkansas may enjoy this building and the wonderful exhibits it contains for at least another 121 years.”

Langley-Ware said the museum was closed Aug. 15 to address the issue of mold and take care of other repairs. The museum officially reopened May 8.

“We’re getting clean-air quality samples; that’s all good,” said David Hogue, county attorney. “The mold is gone.”

Langley-Ware said the museum most recently received a Historic Preservation and Restoration Grant from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program to restore the structure’s historic windows, replace the front door and paint the building. This grant has been financed in part with tax funds from the state of Arkansas and the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

“This was a matching grant, and we had to come up with $10,720 as a cash match. As soon as all of the paperwork is completed, work will begin,” Langley-Ware said.

“A local craftsman, Steve Calkins of Conway, will restore the 18 wood-frame, six-over-six double-hung windows, using all the original wood that he can use,” she said.

“These windows at one time had screens on them,” Langley-Ware said. “In restoring these windows, the panes will be reglazed, and exterior storm windows, in accordance with historic-preservation guidelines, will be installed to fit over the outside of the windows, attaching at points where the screens once hung. This will prevent moisture from entering the building and will add to the security of the building.”

Langley-Ware said the museum architect, Steve Hurd of Conway, suggested replacing the front door of the museum with one “more reminiscent of the late 1890s,” and while doing so, make repairs to the threshold and doorframe, again, adding to the security of the building.

“Once these restoration and repair efforts are complete and the windows have been repainted, the entire building is to get a new coat of paint,” Langley-Ware said. Spivey Painting of Conway will clean and paint the building.

“The building will be repainted the same colors … red and sage green with cream trim,” Langley-Ware said. “The red is in recognition of the structural brick construction … it’s red under the stucco, and the green, while fairly period-correct and complementary to the red, actually is a nod to the historic Faulkner County Library, which occupied the building from 1938 until 1995. It was green for many years. The cream is just a good color for the trim.”

Langley-Ware said an anticipated date of completion for the restoration project is mid-October.

She said the property has operated since 1997 as the Faulkner County Museum, which is an agency of Faulkner County.

“We intend for it to be our home indefinitely,” she said, smiling. “Within the walls of this historic building, the museum houses prehistoric and historic artifact collections, documents and research materials. The museum serves the public as an educational and research facility, offering tours, educational programs and loan materials, and research services. Museum admission is free. The property is currently [Americans With Disabilities Act] accessible. Future renovation plans include upgrading entrances and exits, creating additional ADA accessible restrooms and eventually installing a mechanical lift system to facilitate access to the second floor.”

Langley-Ware said the museum has received additional grants this year, including the following:

• A Conway Historic District Commission subgrant from the city of Conway for $3,500 is to be used to pay civil-engineering fees. She said the museum has contracted a civil engineer to devise a water-drainage plan to divert water away from the building.

“Currently water pools near the southeast entrance whenever it rains, causing a moisture issue,” she said. “We hope to complete this drainage plan created by Magie Engineering and Land Development Co. this year.”

• Two grants from the Arkansas Community Foundation of Faulkner County: A Giving Tree Grant of $1,000 and a Venture Capital Grant of $215, are to be used to help secure the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program Restoration Grant.

• An Arkansas Humanities Council Small Museums Operating Grant will award the museum $2,500.

“We just got this one,” she said. “It is to be used for purchasing archival shelving, which we badly need.”

Langley-Ware said the new roof installed in 2016 cost approximately $56,000.

“That was paid for with private funds and the museum’s voluntary millage funds,” she said, adding that Collier Roofing Inc. of Greenbrier installed the new roof.

“Private funds were also used to pay approximately $20,000 in repairs to repair the stucco and masonry on the building last year,” she said. Western Specialty Contractors of America, which has an office in Mabelvale, did the masonry work.

“County funds of $42,921.70 were paid to Metro Disaster Specialists of North Little Rock for the mold abatement,” she said.

Langley-Ware said proposed projects for 2018 include a new heat-and-air system, work on the electrical and lighting systems, and refurbishing the floors and ceilings. ADA compliance upgrades are planned for 2018 as well.

“This part of the project is dependent upon funds available,” she said. “We are going to have to fundraise for this portion.”

While exterior work has been, or will be, done to the museum, work on the inside of the building continues as well.

With the help of a summer intern — Cora McCain of Fayetteville, a junior at Hendrix College in Conway who is majoring in economics/business with a second major in anthropology and received an Odyssey Grant from the school — Langley-Ware has moved some of the exhibits around and refurbished others.

All of this is in keeping with the museum commission’s long-range plan to renovate the entire museum, which includes a new layout for the building. Basically, Langley-Ware said, the floor plan will be “flip-flopped,” with exhibits moved to the front of the building and storage space for the archives moved to the back of the building.

“We hope to have all of the renovations completed by 2023, which will be the 150th anniversary of Faulkner County and the 127th anniversary of our building” she said.

Langley said she hopes visitors to the museum during its annual open house in November will notice improvements.

“We have scheduled our open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Nov. 4,” she said. “This will be our 25th anniversary.”

Langley-Ware said the museum is seeking additional private and corporate donors. Corporate donors to date include Collier Roofing Inc., $2,000 in 2016; Centennial Bank, $5,000 in 2916 and a pledge again for 2017; and the Conway Kiwanis Club, $1,000.

“We need to raise about $250,000 to complete the full renovation of the building,” she said.

Patrons may buy Christmas ornaments commemorating the 25th anniversary of the museum for $15. Patrons may also purchase engraved bricks for $100 each. Both of these items are available at the museum.

“I also encourage Faulkner County residents to pay their voluntary millage,” Langley-Ware said. “These monies keep our doors open, the lights on, and they pay for the maintenance and upkeep of the building.

“We need residents to pay that millage and support their county museum,” she said.

The Faulkner County Museum, at 801 Locust St., is on the Faulkner County Courthouse Square. For more information, call (501) 329-5918.

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