Volunteers begin renovations at Martinez Museum

The volunteers at the Martinez Historical Society are taking advantage of the Covid Pandemic slowdown to make repairs to the Martinez Museum.  In 2016, the exhibition areas of the Museum were renovated, the walls were painted and the floors were refinished.   Now, in 2020, the poor condition of the back rooms in the building are receiving attention.

The most important room at the rear of the Museum is the Library.  It is there that an extensive collection of books and other publications about local history is housed.  “That is your starting point for researching any aspect of Martinez history”, said Archivist Kathy Yates.  “Whether it’s investigating the history of your house, your family or something else about Martinez history, we’ve got the source books that you need in the Local History Library.”

Andrea Blachman and Congressman Mike Thompson in the Waterfront Room of Martinez Museum

The 50-year old linoleum in the Library is in such poor condition that it is worn through to the floor boards in several spots.  “It is a tripping hazard,” said Rick Aldridge, “we really can’t avoid replacing it any longer.”  Rick is the just-retired president of the local Carpenters Union, and is one of the Society’s newest board members.

There is also an old kitchen in the rear of the building that volunteers are converting into a storage room.   “We have items stored at a number of off-site locations, including the Waters Moving & Storage Warehouse,” said Museum Director Andrea Blachman.  “But there are many items that we need to access repeatedly throughout the year, so the former kitchen will provide us with some additional onsite storage which is badly needed.”

The ancient galvanized plumbing under the building also needs to be replaced.  It is so full of rust, that water barely flows through the pipes.  “New copper piping is the solution,” observed Volunteer Bob Yates, “and will also prevent future problems from developing — like the old piping springing leaks in the crawl space under the building.”

Volunteers enter and exit the building through the back door at the Museum, but it is delaminating due to age and exposure to the weather.  “The door is in such poor condition,” said Bob Braun, “it is in danger of falling apart.”  Bob is another volunteer who helps maintain the Museum when he is not serving as the president of the Kiwanis Club in Martinez.

The Society will also be repairing the roof at the rear of the Museum.  That is a portion of the historic building which was added in the years after the original structure was built in the 1890.  It has a flat roof, notorious for developing leaks if not meticulously maintained.

Volunteers at the Society operate the Museum so that the citizens of Martinez will enjoy the benefits of having such an institution in our town.  Neither the City nor the County provide funding.  The Historical Society raises all the funds needed to operate the Museum.   “Unpaid volunteers who love the Museum do most of the work there,” said Historical Society president John Curtis, “so we stretch every dollar a long way.  But cash is still required to buy materials and to hire licensed professionals to do things that are beyond the skills of the volunteers.  So donations from the community are needed — and are gratefully accepted.”

The Historical Society has set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise the funds to make repairs to the Museum: https://www.gofundme.com/f/renovate-the-martinez-museum

Links to the GoFundMe campaign can also be found in the posts on the Historical Society Facebook page.  Alternatively, checks can be mailed directly to the Martinez Historical Society at P.O. Box 14 in Martinez.  Donations are tax deductible.

The Martinez Museum is located at 1005 Escobar Street in the 1890 Borland House — at the intersection of Escobar and Court Streets.  During the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Museum is open by appointment.  Call 387-5385 of email AndreaBlachman@gmail.com to arrange a visit.

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