Following a lengthy period of planning, fund-raising, and hard work, Black River Academy Museum (BRAM) celebrated the formal opening of its new elevator facility in its new elevator wing at a special ceremony on June 2 at the Ludlow-based museum.
Richard Nye, the major force behind the museum’s long efforts to make the three floors of its historic exhibits and programs available to everyone, formally cut the ribbon to mark the elevator’s use. In doing so, he noted the hard work that had gone into the realization of this project and the efforts of both the public and the board members in achieving this goal.
Anita Alic, BRAM leader on the elevator installation, stated, “We could not have accomplished the installation of this elevator without the help and support of our many private donors and local businesses. Also, we benefited from the generosity of the Ludlow Enterprise Fund, the VT Cultural Facilities Coalition and the State of Vermont who awarded us a generous $18,000 grant and the Walter Cerf Community Fund.” The addition of the elevator will make BRAM fully compliant with ADA-access requirements and offer the opportunity for all the visitors to the museum to view the three floors of exhibits offered by BRAM. Museum Director Georgia Brehm was particularly pleased that the elevator now means that “our area school students will be allowed to see and appreciate the artifacts of the past that have helped shape the present they live in”.
In reviewing the history of the project, Alic noted the many obstacles that had to be overcome. “Obviously, fund-raising was extraordinarily important in this project,” she indicated. “However, we also had to deal with the fact that we wanted to install a relative modern convenience in a very historic building.” Alic reviewed the frequent need to “adjust” plans in order to comply with historic demands of a building on the National Register of Historic Places.
Among these requirements were that the elevator not compromise the basic structurally appearance of the building and that the new facilities satisfy basic demands for access to the buidling. This was made evident by the fact that the original entrance to the building required climbing a large number of steps. Additionally, the new facility meant that the museum would have to meet a much more stringent fire code. Alic also hinted the current economic downturn made fund-raising especially difficult.
“All of these factors had to be satisfied,” commented Alic, “and they all meant increased costs. But we were able to handle this with the help of our contractor, Wright Construction of Mt Holly.”
Some of the others attending the opening ceremonies included Senator Alice Nitka and Representative Dennis Devereux, members of the Wright Construction project team, and other guests.
The museum – and its new elevator, is now open for the season. For information call 228-5050 or visit the museum’s web site at www.bramvt.org.