Currently, Conger House Museum is the chosen building site for some much needed restoration activity. Dave Hotle, editor of the Washington Evening Journal, documented the process in the July 29, 2010 edition.
“One of Washington’s oldest historical landmarks is getting a $68,000 facelift, thanks to community contributors and the Washington County Riverboat Foundation.
This morning contractors were hard at work removing the boiler from Conger House to make way for the new heating and cooling system that will control the environment for the exhibits from the 1800’s and early 1900’s. The building will get a fresh coat of paint for the first time since it opened as a museum in 1973. Washington County Historical Society treasurer, Mary Levy, said that the improvements to the building are all being done with the greatest care to preserve the historical appearance of the building.
‘We are going by the oldest photos of Conger House that we could find,’ she said. ‘The photos from the late 1800’s aren’t very clear, but we’re trying to match them as closely as possible.’
Levy hopes the project will be complete in October, although she said it depends on the weather and rate of work. She said Conger House would be open the first two weeks of December for the annual Christmas Celebration.
The Society has been doing repairs to the house a little at a time as money comes in, Levy said. She said recently the Society was able to receive a $25,000 grant from the Riverboat Foundation that enabled the work to be done. Additionally, she said the Society has received a gift of $100,000 from John Jackson Jr., son of the John Jackson whose memorabilia from his participation in the 1912 Olympics, is on display in Conger House.
Part of the restoration includes asbestos abatement in the basement of the house. The electrical system in the house is also being given an overhaul, she said. She also said two electrical heating and cooling systems -- one for the basement and first floor and one for the second floor and attic are being installed. The original radiators and fireplaces that were used to heat and cool the house are being left, but for decoration only. Small holes are being punched in the floor of the main level for a forced air system. Levy said the holes wouldn’t be obvious.
‘We wanted to maintain the temperature in a way that is more ideal for the artifacts. ‘ she said.
In the past when the house was being heated, she said, the second floor would be hot while the rest of the house would be cold. She believes the new system will solve that problem.
On the outside, the paint is being matched with the original color of the house. The trim is remaining the same.
Levy said the society hopes to update the switch plates in the museum. She said the society is having trouble locating original looking switch plates to install in the museum.
Conger House was built in 1847 by Adam Richey, the first resident of Washington. Jonathan Conger bought the house in 1855 and expanded the house with additions. In 1973, the Conger House Society restored the house to use as a museum.
Levy said that eventually as projects continue, the Historical Society hopes to get new furniture and displays for the museum. She said the current project will make the house look much better.
‘It’s been a long time coming, ‘ she said. ‘A house this old always has work that needs to be done.’ ”
The Washington County Historical Society
is a non-profit corporation with
an IRS 501c(3) designation.