Aberdeen museum’s path good for the community

More than three years after a fire gutted the Aberdeen Museum of History and many of the items housed in the building, the showcase for local artifacts continues to inch toward a reopening.

The city of Aberdeen finalized its purchase of the old Salvation Army building in the 100 block of West Wishkah Street on Feb. 23. The cost was $350,000 — money we believe was well spent.

The building will need more than $1.6 million in renovations before it is suitable for the museum’s extensive collection. While we are not sure how long it will take to renovate the building or where the money is all going to come from, the city has managed to keep a tenant for a while.

An agreement between the Salvation Army and Aberdeen calls for the food pantry operated by the organization to remain on-site. A commercial lease signed by Aberdeen Mayor Pete Schave allows the pantry to use 2,500 square feet of space on the first floor of the building.

That means the pantry, which provides basic food items for people in need, will stay put while the Salvation Army Aberdeen Corps renovates their local headquarters. The agreement spells out a 12-month lease with two six-month extension options or more than enough time for the organization to sort things out.

Aberdeen Board of Museum and History President John Shaw said as much to The Daily World reporter Erika Gebhardt in a story published on Thursday, March 3.

“It’s really about allowing them to keep the food pantry open for a while during the transition,” Shaw said. “I don’t see continuing the food pantry to be an issue with moving forward with the building work.”

The agreement marks a collaborative effort between all parties involved; it’s the way these things should work when done right. The Salvation Army gets what it needs with the food pantry continuing to operate on East Wishkah Street and the Aberdeen Museum of History finally lands a new home.

Now it is up to museum leadership and volunteers to begin the weighty task of working on the transition. That involves prepping and moving all the items presently housed in the Port Industrial area to the new location.

The transition work will take some time, but the state of the museum is in a much better place than it was since it burned to the ground in the Armory Fire of June 2019.

That was a dark day for museum supporters and this old fishing and logging town, but better days are on the horizon for the museum and that’s a good thing for the community and all the people who have helped get the museum to this point.