Big effort saves items at future museum site
Posted: January 25, 2013
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — Out with the old to make room for the new was the order of the day Thursday at the future site of the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum.
Throughout the morning, volunteers stripped the building at 19 W. Cork St. of light fixtures, vent covers, doors and other items that can be sold in Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, said Mary Braun, executive director of the museum.
The “deconstruction project” was a collaboration between the museum, Habitat for Humanity of Winchester-Frederick County and Home Depot, which supplied most of the volunteers.
It was a way to reuse items that still have value but cannot be used in the new museum, Braun said.
“When the construction starts, that stuff will either be in the way or not fit the design for what we are doing,” she said. “It is more cost effective to allow our builders and architect to design the new but know we won’t waste the old.”
The new location will include about 14,500 square feet of exhibit and education space, Braun said. That is almost triple the amount at the present site at 54 S. Loudoun St. in downtown Winchester.
Renovations to the Cork Street building are expected to cost almost $3 million, said Braun, who declined to say how much money has been raised so far.
The building was constructed in 1950 to house Schewel Furniture Co., which was there for 50 years. In April 2002, the company sold it to West Cork LLC for $275,000 and opened a new retail store off Jubal Early Drive in Winchester.
Since then, the building has been renovated and used as office space. In 2008, it was the local headquarters for President Barack Obama’s election campaign.
The Discovery Museum purchased the building from West Cork LLC in April 2012 for $1.15 million.
Much of the deconstruction work was done by members of Team Depot, a group of full-time associates at the Home Depot stocking distribution center in Stephens City, said Scott Thompson, operations manager. The group tries to find projects in the community at least quarterly where they can lend a hand.
“They have the knowledge to do this,” he said. “Some come from construction backgrounds.”
As an added benefit of being on the team, the associates can report their volunteer hours to Home Depot, said Thompson, team captain. The company translates that time into a dollar amount and will donate it to the nonprofit organization of the associate’s choice.
The site was prepped ahead of time by draining Freon from equipment and turning off the water and all but a few electricity panels, Braun said.
The volunteers started at 8 a.m. Thursday and worked into the afternoon removing trim, switch plates, counter tops, cabinets, desks, vents, handrails and other items from the three-story building, said Adam Glogau, ReStore materials coordinator.
“There are plenty of them, and they are in excellent condition,” he said.
The ReStore also plans to take the plumbing fixtures, but didn’t move them Thursday, said Mike Butler, executive director of Habitat.
All of the items were evaluated ahead of time by Glogau to make sure they would be usable at ReStore, Butler said. The store sells “new and gently used items,” with the proceeds going to Habitat.
Seeing the three groups come together and everyone benefiting from the project was phenomenal, he said. The volunteers helped the museum complete the first phase of their building, which was light deconstruction, not demolition, he said.
“At the same time, we are able to benefit from the materials we pull out by selling them at the ReStore to raise money to build new homes for families in the Winchester-Frederick County area,” Butler said.
Ultimately, if the museum applies for LEED certification, which is a verification of green buildings, the recycling of these materials would be meaningful, Braun said. The museum isn’t sure if it will seek the certification, which can be expensive, but the building will be up to those standards.
The new museum’s design documents are almost ready and will go out to bid in February, Braun said. Demolition and removal of any hazardous materials will be done in February, and construction should start in March or April.
“We hope to be open early in 2014,” she said.
— Contact Laura McFarland at firstname.lastname@example.org