Mayor Ottens and Aldermen, I have worked with museums' accessions and requirements much of my adult life so I will give an oversight of relocating Fulton's museum.
The mayor is proposing that the Martin House's staff transfer its accessions to the Drives Building. This should not be done. Since the Drives Building at last just may become a public-community building, the Martin house contents would need to be locked in a secured room, along with most items locked within secured cases. Glass cases are extremely costly, $1,000-$2,000 each depending on size. Imagine buying 20 to adequately protect and showcase even part of the items.
The temperature of a museum room would need to be climate-controlled to protect the life of textiles, paper goods, etc. The indirect, reduced lighting would need to be used in each of these areas so that no additional deterioration occurs to items. All of these things add to the cost and labor of moving anything from one area to another. The Endowment Fund that might come with the move would be gone in the set up and protection process of the items.
Many of the furnishings have the provenance of pieces belonging to the original Martin collections. These items are Civil War pieces which show wonderfully well within the Civil War home of the above – even in the room setting they were chosen for!
The remaining contents of the entire home would need to be protected during any "open" times, requiring a docent to watch it. Plus much labor would be needed to put things into storage and then rotate items within the Drives Building's limited setting.
All of this is risky and costly in time and effort along with taking the space away from the Drives Building as a community center. The building was never intended to provide space for a house-filled museum already operating. The Drives Building may set up smaller displays of the river's history, for the public's interests as space allows. After months of discussion on civic uses, I am totally surprised that transporting the entire house's contents is even mentioned in the mix.
In addition to the above requirements, the volunteers – with a Drives Building restoration perhaps pending – already have enough costs and work involved without adding unwanted, unneeded ones.
One wonders why city leaders want to lose one of the best properly maintained museums in this area? Why would they want to create additional expenses that will cut into the Drives Building's restoration funds along with depleting the Endowment Fund in the processes?
These wonderful volunteers have the grit and money for all of the Drives Building's initial plans. They then have commitments from various businesses that will function within the Drives Building. The restoration group had submitted a financial plan that will blossom after these various businesses get established in the pending community center.
With any new endeavor, one builds in stages to the extent that funds are available. Even the city does this. However, the historical group already has money, grants and trusts, that are just waiting to be used to create a much-needed community center – not for themselves, but for the people of Fulton. What a magnanimous gesture by these selfless volunteers! No more delays!
The purchase of the Drives Building from the city should be on real-estate terms – not part of a convoluted game. The mayor's new wants, after already answering many wants from him, are just that. However, now this want is to give up the successful Martin House in order for the Historical Society to own the Drives Building.
The council should work out different terms on the city-owned house, but don't destroy the purpose and means of the original owner, the Martin Museum. The same terms need to be applied to the Drives Building. Don't destroy the original giver's intent, as several speakers explained at Monday's council meeting.
Has the council's members or mayor ever been in the Historical Museum to view it along with seeing its outstanding memorabilia collections of Fulton's history? An offer to enjoy an interested stroll through 175 years of Fulton's history awaits you! Please visit!
I wish to give thanks to the mayor for finally some dialogue on possible transactions. This type of interaction should be with all issues. However, this interaction should always be with his aldermen first, then if necessary in the paper. However, I still count this as a major achievement to finally get a starting point again.
The spring rains will continue to destroy more of the Drives Building's interior. Please let the Drives Building get new ownership with no strings. Someone is waiting to put a new roof on. Others are waiting to begin a much-needed project for their community. Let this stalemate end in a quick real-estate transfer. Mayor, a former owner in a transfer is not held responsible for debts or acclaims in what happens in a new transfer. Nor should he tell a new owner what to house within. The mayor is much too hesitant to a group that has shown a number of successes. God bless their commitment and foresight!