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Maidstone Bicentennial Museum moving ahead with expansion project


by Sylene Argent

Despite having a few unprecedented setbacks, construction on the Maidstone Bicentennial Museum’s expansion project is now rolling.

  In December, Curator of the Maidstone Bicentennial Museum, Victoria Beaulieu, announced the Maidstone & Area Historical Society, which operates the Museum, was the recipient of a 2019 Ontario Trillium Foundation capital expenditure grant in the amount of $120,100.

  The grant, courtesy of the Provincial government, was set to upgrade the HVAC system and electrical service for the entire facility. In addition, repair the floor, insulate, and drywall the rear building. The grant also including installing a small addition to the rear building, in addition to a new outdoor pavilion and storage area that will run the length of the facility.

  Beaulieu is grateful for the grant. She said the small addition will allow the Museum to showcase its War of 1812 and Voyager displays on a fulltime basis, and will also provide more space for programming.

  To date, the HVAC has been installed, and the addition for the display area has been framed in. The outdoor storage and pavilion area has also been framed in. A second waterline will be installed this week.

  “When it is all done, it is going to be great,” she said.

  To accommodate the renovation, the Maidstone Bicentennial Museum has been closed since December 18. Construction was planned to begin in January, but delays in getting a building permit, followed by COVID-19 restrictions, pushed the project start date back. Because of the restrictions, she doubts the Museum will be open anytime this summer.

  Beaulieu said the Ontario Trillium Foundation has been fabulous to work with in regards to the time extension needed.

  The Museum was fortunate enough to be able to employ three students through the Canada Summer Job program. The students will help maintain the Museum.

  “We are so happy to get the students back in,” Beaulieu said, adding the Museum has been able to implement proper social distancing requirements for them as they work.

Volunteers with the Maidstone Bicentennial Museum were hopeful to host fundraisers to cover the cost to purchase new display cases and tables that will be needed after the addition is added, which the grant funding will not cover, but Beaulieu said that will likely have to wait some time as COVID-19 restrictions continue. This also means summer events will be cancelled.

  “The community will be pleased with the expansion. It will be a great resource and tourist attraction,” she said.

  The hardest part, Beaulieu added, is not having the youths from the Museum’s Junior Historical Society around because of the Coronavirus.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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