VALPARAISO | The Porter County Museum Foundation has reached one milestone in its quest to transform the former Valparaiso City Hall into the new Porter County Museum.
The foundation raised $100,000 toward facade improvements to the 1878 building, which has served as the city hall, police station and fire station over the years. That qualified the organization for a $150,000 matching grant from the city's Redevelopment Commission, which was approved at the commission's May 8 meeting.
"It's coming along slowly, but that is by design," museum Director Kevin Pazour said. "We are working with (city Project and Facility Management Director) Don McGinley to get the drawings we need to begin the work on the facade."
Pazour said the goal is to restore the building's front to its original appearance.
"Technically, it is two buildings, and we will be giving the identity back with the town hall being limestone clad and the other faced with brick," Pazour said. "It's an important part of the overall museum project to give the identity back to the buildings."
The fundraising took a little longer than expected, but Pazour said one of the reasons is the foundation has focused on the current museum to show "we are capable of putting together some pretty spectacular exhibits and do it in an economical fashion."
The facade work will be done this year, and the goal is to raise $1 million to $1.25 million for the interior work in time to do that work in 2014. The new museum is expected to be ready to open in 2015, which will almost coincide with the museum's 100-year anniversary and the state's bicentennial celebration, both coming in 2016.
"We are trying to fine tune it and get the numbers as accurate as possible so we can put together the last phase of the capital campaign," he said. "It's taking longer, but we realize this is something too important to rush. It's a big undertaking. The biggest in the museum's 100 years of existence."