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Museum move fund drive under way

History unfolds at its own pace.

A capital campaign called History on the Move, though, may speed up the process for the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum.

Historical society members are gearing up to relocate the museum facility to Winslow from Strawberry Hill Park as soon as it’s physically and financially possible.

“I think a lot of people are excited about it, and not just the membership,” said Joan Piper, historical society executive director. “People in Winslow really want us to come.”

Added George Bussell, museum board president: “We get lots of questions – ‘When are you going to move? When are you going to move?’”

The answer is, early next year – funds permitting. A capital campaign launched four weeks ago has raised pledges of $67,000 from society members and alums. The society now hopes to tap the community at large, with an overall goal of $350,000.

“I’ve never figured we won’t be able to do it,” said Judy Gibbs, campaign chair.

The Seattle architectural firm of Rohleder/Borges/Fleming has been commissioned to guide the move.

Funds will go toward architectural and landscape plans, site preparation, permitting, new construction and improvements, and related costs.

Included in the plan is a new lobby and office space, joining the historic, 1908-era schoolhouse that houses exhibits and the current annex that contains a reference library and collections storage. A basement may also be included as the site is developed.

“It’s much more than hiring someone to move the building and put it down in place,” Gibbs said.

Now making the rounds is an architect’s model showing the museum plunked down at the west end of “Three Tree Park,” the city-owned vacant lot next to the BPA Playhouse.

The historical society last year entered a long-term lease agreement with the city, for use of that site at a nominal cost.

The move is expected to raise the museum’s community profile, and make it accessible to tourists coming over on the ferry.

A tentative schedule has the museum closing its doors early next year, with cataloging and packing of items through early spring.

The building would be rolled into Winslow in late spring, with a goal of having the doors open by July 4.

Those plans must also integrate the museum’s next major exhibit, which will focus on Bainbridge Island during World War II.

The exhibit will include the role of Fort Ward in breaking the Japanese code, Eagle Harbor shipbuilding, the Japanese-American internment, and life on the home front.

“We’ll have to take it down, pack it up and set it up again,” Piper said.

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