Historic Arkansas Museum Closing Because of Tornado Damage

April 30, 2008

Baxter County Heritage Museum in Gassville, Ark., damaged by a tornado while closed for its winter break, will not reopen in the historic building it has occupied for eight years.

Officials say a new site will be sought in Mountain Home, and the damaged building will be sold.

The local Historical and Genealogical Society voted last week to close the museum in Gassville because the cost to repair the building would be too high. The Feb. 5 storm damaged the museum’s roof and exposed other long-standing deterioration that the society had previously been unaware of.

“The membership decided that we should close the museum and concentrate on other aspects of the society’s mission for an indefinite period of time,” Catherine Abel, the society’s president, told the Baxter Bulletin newspaper of Mountain Home.

She said the historical society hopes to reopen the museum somewhere in Mountain Home. The Gassville museum site will be sold, she said.

Abel said exterior renovations alone would have cost $30,000.

The building dates to the 1920s. It was initially the Rollins Hospital, Baxter County’s first. The historical society bought the building in 1992 and opened the museum in 2000. Last year, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The town of Gassville, meanwhile, is still working to recover from the storm. A tornado siren to replace one ripped from above a gas station is on back order and is expected to be shipped sometime in June. The new siren will be placed in a new location after tests showed it would be heard over a larger area if it were to be moved.

Information from: The Baxter Bulletin, www.baxterbulletin.com

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