Vigo County Historical Museum history center opens Tuesday

Tribune-Star/Austen Leake

'It's been a journey': The Vigo County Historical Museum will open its doors to the public for the first time on Tuesday morning.

After years of planning, fundraising and renovation, the Vigo County Historical Museum will open its new History Center at 929 Wabash Ave. to the public at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

The first groups to visit will be Vigo County School Corp. third graders from Farrington Grove, Ouabache, and Riley — the previously planned field trips connect to the third grade social science curriculum, which focuses on community.

Marylee Hagan, museum executive director, described it as a "soft opening" with a formal ribbon cutting set for Nov. 19. The student field trip had to be delayed from last month because the museum wasn't ready to open.

The soft opening is for the school tours and "anyone else who happens to come by," she said. "A lot of people have been waiting to get in here."

For Hagan, the opening is "a great relief," she said. "The last five years of my life have been involved in this. We are anxious for people to see what we've done. I think folks will be pleasantly surprised. We're excited."

She said it's been "a big undertaking for a small organization."

The new history center has been ready to open, but "we were waiting for final papers that were connected to our tax credits," Hagan said. The Historical Museum is a nonprofit that qualifies for federal tax credits but can't use them because it pays no taxes.

"We can sell them to another entity that can use the tax credits against their tax liabilities," she said. "We have been waiting; it took longer than we thought. ... We finally got the papers signed."

The history center also required a final fire inspection before it could open.

Those last steps in hand, "We can open tomorrow," Hagan said.

In 2013, the Historical Society purchased the former Ehrmann Furniture Building on Wabash Avenue and began a capital fundraising campaign to renovate/rehabilitate the structure. The building was built in 1895.

The project cost is more than $3 million.

"We started moving the collection in January," but it couldn't open until the exhibits were built, Hagan said. "It's been a journey. We're pretty pleased with the way it's turned out and we hope the community thinks so, too."

Museum admission is $7 for adults; $6 for seniors 60 and over; $4 for youth age 5 to 18 and free for children under age 5.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at sue.loughlin@tribstar.com Follow Sue on Twitter @TribStarSue.

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