Charlotte County Museum won’t open anywhere this season - Mar. 14, 2013
Kathy Bockus/file photo
The decision to close the Charlotte County Museum leaves the future of the museum’s building - shown here - in doubt.
The Charlotte County Museum will not open its main display building or the satellite location for the 2013 tourist season.
Doug Dougherty, acting chair of the museum’s board of directors, said the decision has been made because of the museum’s precarious financial situation and the lack of volunteer board members.
“We’re going to take a year off and regroup,” said Dougherty, 86. “I’m getting tired and I can’t take the responsibility anymore. I’m frustrated and worn out.” Dougherty resigned as chair several years ago, but resumed the position by acclimation when two other chairpersons submitted their resignations.
Dougherty said he and the other six board members are “disappointed in the people of St. Stephen.”
“We can’t get young people interested in being members of the board. It’s hard to do fundraising.”
He said the last two years the museum operated in a satellite location downtown saw more local people visit than in all the other years the museum has been open. This year would have been the museum’s 33rd season.
The museum, located at 443 Milltown Boulevard near the Milltown border crossing, closed for a year in 2010 because of diminished visitor traffic resulting in a decrease in funds with which to operate.
The board was going to take the year to develop a new focus for the museum, work on some fund raising ideas and discuss how to rejuvenate and recreate the museum in a way to generate interest and funding.
However, community support for the museum just wasn’t forthcoming and the decision was made in 2011 to open in the more central but smaller premises in the Garcelon Building on Milltown Boulevard.
“The museum opened in 1981,” said Dougherty. “It was the pride and joy of the late Marion Bain. I’m glad she’s not around to know what’s happened.”
The museum owns 10,000 artifacts said Dougherty. “It carries the history not only of St. Stephen, but the history of Charlotte County.” Some of the furniture and textiles date back to the 18th century.
Is the museum a thing of the past?
“I hope not,” stated Dougherty. He said the board will meet this week with the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture from which the museum receives an operating grant. Department representatives have offered to work with the board.
Dougherty said the town supports the museum financially by paying its insurance every year. “The building reverts to the town if there ceases to be a museum,” stated Dougherty. He said Coun. Mike Booth sits on the museum’s board and is aware of the financial and volunteer situation.
“He is taking our concerns to the council.”
Dougherty said the building does need repairs but it is not entirely in bad shape and needs mostly cosmetic work inside.
“I’m hoping the meeting will help us develop a new outlook for the museum. Maybe volunteers will come forward and offer to help.”
Anyone interested in becoming a member of the museum’s board can contact Dougherty at 466-4246 or board secretary Judy Nicholson at 466-2188.
“I don’t want to make it sound all doom and gloom. We just need some fresh blood.
“I’m just hoping people come forward.”