The staff of the Mahoning Valley Historical Society discovered this past Wednesday morning, January 8, that a water pipe in a wall on the second floor of the Arms Family Museum broke overnight, causing minor damage on the second floor and in the first floor sitting room, and extensive damage in the first floor dining room and the boiler room directly below in the basement. At this time, undamaged collections have been moved out of harm’s way, the broken pipe has been cut off from service, all damaged or destroyed materials removed, and the floors, ceilings and walls that were affected by the water were dried out.
The dining room and its furnishings were heavily damaged and will require research, conservation and repair work to restore the room to its original appearance. The water also entered and severely damaged the control panels for the boilers and heating, ventilation and air conditioning system in the basement.
“Fortunately the boilers and air handling units in the boiler room were not damaged and are running on manual controls,” remarked Executive Director Bill Lawson. “It was also fortunate that most of the borrowed decorations for this year’s Memories of Christmas Past exhibit already had been taken down and removed, resulting in a minimal amount of damage to loaned items.”
The Historical Society has ongoing relationships with professional museum conservators and will use its resources to repair the damage and restore the historic fabric of the dining room and its furnishings. The staff also will explore ways to use the project as an educational opportunity in historic preservation. The museum already was closed for the remainder of January for exhibits changeover. However, due to the need to schedule and complete repair work, a re-opening date has yet to be determined at this time.
The Archives Library and Historical Society offices remain open, and education staff are planning lectures and other programs over the next few months at the Tyler Mahoning Valley History Center.