Museum of Southampton History nearly ready for demolition

Published 8:00 am Thursday, July 11, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Museum of Southampton History at 22541 Linden St. in Courtland is drawing closer to its planned demolition, according to Southampton County Historical Society President Lynda T. Updike.

Updike announced in late 2023 that the museum would be demolished and rebuilt on nearly the same footprint. She said the society was following through with a plan conceived by architect Gerald Traub, who had been brought in to look at the existing museum building, which has a history that goes back to the 1950s.

“In the conversation with the architect, we were told that it was cheaper to tear down and rebuild than to try to fix everything that’s wrong,” Updike said.

Providing an update Tuesday, July 9, Updike said the Museum of Southampton History Committee is meeting Thursday, July 11, by Zoom.

“They’re going to, I hope, arrive at a (demolition) date,” she said.

She noted that her guess for when the demolition will occur is around Aug. 1.

She said that the site manager is working to get a demolition permit.

The building is almost completely vacant now, as volunteers have been working for months to move all the museum artifacts into two storage units in Courtland.

“We found a home for all the display cases that we weren’t going to use, and the cabinets that were in there, we found a home for them,” Updike said. “Nothing will be thrown away, per sé. Everything went to a new home.”

She said the historical society donated the museum’s bathroom fixtures to Franklin Habitat for Humanity.

Once the building is demolished, “the crushed debris, hopefully, will go in the parking lot to cover some wet spots,” Updike said. “So that won’t be discarded either.”

Aside from some mannequins, only one major item remains in the old building.

“The big bank safe from the old Courtland bank is in the building,” Updike said. “It’s going to stay local, but we’re not keeping it.”

However, to get it out of the building, “we’re going to have to knock a hole in the wall,” Updike said.

As a result, she noted that the bank safe’s removal and the building demolition will have to dovetail each other.

Updike said C.W. Brinkley Inc. Construction, based out of Suffolk, will be handling the museum rebuild.

In late 2023, Updike said the historical society had a “guesstimate” on how much the demolish-and-rebuild project would cost, “and it’s a million dollars-plus.”

She noted on July 9 that she does not have any figures different from that as of right now.

“We have raised a lot of that money, and it’s through the generosity of individuals, companies, foundations,” she said in late 2023, adding that a couple of people have donated stocks from the stock market as well.

She said on July 9 that the historical society has enough money to start the demolish-and-rebuild project.

Donations to the society are tax deductible, as it is a 501(c) (3) organization. It serves as the umbrella organization over the Museum of Southampton History, the Rebecca Vaughan House, the Southampton Agriculture and Forestry Museum, and the Rochelle-Prince House.