The Altoona Area Historical Society has spent more than $100,00 0n renovations of the museum building.
Originally built in the 1870s by R.A. Crawford, the building was a general store, with meeting rooms upstairs that were used by the Masons and city council. Porter Hardware would later move into the building before it was sold to Helen and Jim Blaney in 1982. The Blaneys spent decades renovating the building and housed their fabric and insurance businesses in the building.
The Blaneys sold the building to the City of Altoona in 2006 to be used as a museum for the city. The first major renovations by the historical society included more than $60,000 worth of tuckpointing. The project was funded mostly through multiple grants from Prairie Meadows.
Restoration work on the west and south exterior of the museum was completed in the fall of 2009. The brick was cleaned, repaired, and re-tuckpointed. After the brickwork was finished, the entire west and south side of the building was waterproofed to protect it from further deterioration.
After focusing on the exterior of the building, the historical society started work on the inside. The upstairs was repainted, with pieces of the original wallpaper and signatures on the walls framed for preservation.
On the main floor, the fluorescent lights were replaced with more historically accurate lighting, and track lighting to better illuminate the displays. The new lighting was all energy-efficient LED to also cut down on the harmful UV lighting that can destroy the historical documents on display. The display cases were also painted and UV blocking blinds were installed to prevent fading.
Renovation work continues at the museum. The historical society is currently working on a renovation plan as a part of its Altoona 2030 project. This is looking at the possibility of a rear addition to the museum, returning the original entrance to the front of the building, repairing structural issues, and potentially adding retail to the building.
If you are interested in learning more about our renovations work, if you would like to get involved, or donate to the ongoing renovations, please contact us!