Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007

Poolesville Museum to open in old Town Hall next year

Visitors welcomed to check out the progress on Poolesville Day

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Laurie DeWitt⁄The Gazette
Steve Goldberg, president of the nonprofit Historic Medley District, stands on the first floor of the old Poolesville Town Hall, which is being remodeled to become a museum.
Over the past century, the boxy brick and stucco building on Fisher Avenue in Poolesville has been home to several banks, a church, a charity thrift shop and the town’s government. By this time next year, the old Town Hall is expected to enter a new phase in its life when it reopens as the Poolesville Museum.

Though renovations are far from complete, history buffs will be able to preview this local treasure during an art show and fundraiser on Poolesville Day, Sept. 8.

‘‘It’s going to be a plain vanilla box,” said Steve Goldberg, president of the nonprofit Historic Medley District, as he stood surveying the ripped-up floors and stacks of lumber in the bright, two-story building. The organization bought the structure from the town for $150,000 in 2006 after years of debate over the future of the deteriorating building.

The organization considers the building a local icon, and it is featured in the town’s official logo.

‘‘Our heritage is just a major, major part of this area,” Goldberg said. ‘‘If you don’t know where you come from, you don’t know where you’re going.”

The museum will showcase exhibits spotlighting the area’s agricultural and Civil War history, said Goldberg, owner of Hearthside Antiques and Collectibles in Poolesville.

Goldberg hopes the building will become a cultural and commercial center for the town, and it may also be used to host community functions.

‘‘It’s absolutely major for heritage tourism and for the average person in Poolesville,” he said.

The area, which was settled in 1760, has many historical attractions, but the museum will be unique in that it will focus specifically on Poolesville.

Construction began on the building in 1907, and it opened as the Poolesville National Bank the following year, according to information provided by Patty Cooper, executive director at Historic Medley. The bank went through several mergers and a closure during the Depression and was donated to the town in 1964. During this time it also housed the Friendly Thrift Shop, a charity run by several churches.

The building has a cellar accessible by a narrow wooden staircase and an open second floor about half the length of the building. Goldberg said that this floor contained the bank’s offices as well as a balcony, where the managers would survey the activity below.

Historic Medley received $175,000 in matching grants last year from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority. The money will be used toward construction and the purchase price of the building. Goldberg estimated renovation costs around $200,000.

The group has held various fundraisers to help finance the project, including the upcoming art show, which will feature 20 artists from around the county, Goldberg said. Half of the art sales will go towards the renovations, and last year’s event raised about $12,000, he said.

Goldberg expects the building to reopen — modernized and restored to its former glory — on Poolesville Day 2008.

‘‘We want it to really become a community space,” Goldberg said.

Art Show

Art Show and Fundraiser for Poolesville Museum, 19933 Fisher Ave., Poolesville.

Opening reception is 6:30-9 p.m. Sept. 7. Cost is $35.

The art show is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 7-8 and Sept. 15-16. $5 suggested donation.

For more information, contact Patty Cooper at 301-972-8588.