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County historical society breaks ground on storage building

Volunteers with the Lawrence County Historical Society are excited about the future of preserving the past.

A handful of longtime supporters gathered at the corner of Sixth and Lawrence streets in Ironton Monday to break ground on a new storage building that will allow the society to keep antiques safe and sound while they are not on display at the Lawrence County Museum.

"We are just totally excited about this," said Peggy Karshner, the society's vice president. "It is really a dream come true for us."

Plans call for a windowless, pre-fabricated aluminum building to be constructed at the site. The 40-foot by 60-foot building will be one story with a mezannine. The facility will include a clothing and document room that will be climate controlled, a workshop and ample storage space, said Pat Arrington, current society president and member for the past 10 years.

"It is going to be a great addition," she said of the project that should be completed by early September. "For material and pictures, climate has an awful lot to do with them fading. Some of the things we have are very old such as Nannie Kelly Wright's dresses."

The society has long since run out of space at the museum on South Sixth Street. For years, items that were not on display were stored at a variety of places around town, Karshner said.

The arrangement became a major problem this spring when the former house of Dr. Dean Massie house on Second Street was broken into three times. The thieves got away with a bedroom suite, furs and other tidbits of Ironton's past, Karshner said.

"If we could have done this four months ago, we could have saved some wonderful antiques," she said.

The cost of the project is yet to be determined but will likely exceed $100,000, Arrington said. Much of the expense was paid for with the proceeds from selling the Massie house to the state to make room for the new Ironton-Russell Bridge.

Still, some of the funding comes from donations and projects the society organizes.

"We want to thank the community for all their help and support through the years," Arrington said. "It has certainly been a community effort. We hope to put a nice looking building that will be a credit to the entire city."