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Council OKs Exterior Repair Costs On Museum
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Riverbank Historical Society president Kristin Platts looks over damage to the exterior, including the planter boxes on the front of the city’s museum. The City Council last week voted to spend up to $25,000 to repair and upgrade the woodwork as part of a refurbishment celebrating the building’s 100th anniversary. Ric McGinnis/The News

Members of the Riverbank City Council voted to fund repairs, painting and restoration of the exterior of the Riverbank Historical Museum, in advance of the centennial celebration of the construction of what was originally a Carnegie Library. The museum is at 3237 Santa Fe St., downtown.

Historical Society President Kristin Platts and Treasurer Rich Holmer made the request on the behalf of the society, at the same time relating some of the history of the building.

In 1921, with funding from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation and the local community, the building that now houses the museum was built and then operated as Carnegie library, one of a series of similar facilities built in towns across the country.

In the early 1990s, Stanislaus County took over the library, ultimately building a new branch further east on Santa Fe.

The building reverted to the city, for a time serving as the headquarters of the Riverbank Chamber of Commerce, then, in 1994, the building became the Riverbank Museum.

In 1996, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. To date, it is the only building within Riverbank which exists on the Register. In addition, the Riverbank Museum building is one of the few original Carnegie Library facilities that still exists in the region.

Since 1994, the property has been maintained by the City of Riverbank and operated as a museum through a partnership with the Riverbank Historical Society.

In June, the Museum building will celebrate 100 years since it was first constructed. As part of a centennial celebration, the Society plans to erect a “little free library” toward the front of the museum property. It will be designed as a replica of the original structure.

They said the Society plans to hold a limited event to recognize that 100-year milestone.

“It has become apparent in recent years,” officials said, “that the building is in dire need of a new paint job and replacement of certain areas of dry rot on the structure.”

The staff report noted that, in advance of the 100-year event, they have obtained preliminary quotes for the painting and dry rot repair of the building. Staff had planned to budget for these items in the Fiscal Year 2021/2022 budget, but because the Historical Society had requested the work in advance of the celebration, they are requesting the project be funded now.

Estimates expect the project to cost about $12,000 for dry rot repair and about the same for painting the structure.

The last time the building was painted, it was done by the Riverbank Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was about 25 years ago, around 1996 or so.

Since the building belongs to the city, staff is required to obtain multiple quotes for the contract.

And staff members said they will ensure that the work completed complies with any and all guidelines related to retaining/maintaining the historical places register in place currently.

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Physical damage, including peeling and rot, is obvious to observers of the exterior of Riverbank’s Historical Museum. Damage to supports for the exterior flower boxes, wood siding, even the wood columns that hold up the roof over the front porch show signs of deterioration. The last time the building was painted was about 25 years ago, when a Riverbank church group undertook the work. Ric McGinnis/The News