Capital Campaign

The Historical Society of the Phoenixville Area is celebrating its 45th anniversary, and looking toward the future! 

The Society is conducting a Phase One Capital Fund Campaign of $750,000 to ultimately raise two million dollars to renovate and improve accessibility to the interior of the Society’s historic building.

Your History is Our History ... a Capital Campaign for the Future!

You are invited to participate to help fund this project to “preserve your history” with a contribution to the Historical Society Capital Fund

Contact HSPA below to get more info about how to give my Capital Campaign Gift

More about our Capital Campaign

As we approached our 45th anniversary we began studying 2 options for our future:  should we relocate to a new building or remain in our current building? A Facilities Committee was formed to review the possibilities.  We looked at what we have with our current building, especially our location in the community.  It was unanimously decided that we have been on this corner for over 42 years, have a solid building, and have the largest open green space in downtown Phoenixville. 

As they say Location, LOCATION, LOCATION!  We agreed that we need to stay in our current location, but our building needs to become accessible.  This means adding an elevator large enough to move artifacts and groups of people between floors, as well as adding a ramp from the back door to the side yard.  In addition, we need climate controls throughout our building, both to protect our artifacts and to make the building more comfortable for volunteers and visitors.  Implementing these plans requires an upgrade of our electrical service.  

Many of you may have seen our early plans to move the entrance, add a third floor to the back section of the building, add a classroom, move the museum up to the sanctuary, as well as make a rental space in the current museum.  The cost of these plans in 2018 money was nearly 2.2 million dollars.  Last year the Facilities committee hired a consultant to conduct a Feasibility Study to see if we would be able to get support to complete the project as presented.  The consultant surveyed a portion of the community.  Those interviewed felt the greatest success would be to focus on handicapped accessibility and give up the third floor and rental space ideas.  It was determined that we need to break the project into PHASES. 

The Society has grown over the past 44 years since its founding into a highly rated regional History Center and Museum with over 35,000 items entered into its archives. Along with the revitalization of Phoenixville, the Society is experiencing increased demand for research inquiries, museum visits, and history programs, and the society’s Board of Directors decided in 2018 to preserve and renovate our 1873 building to meet the Society’s present and future needs for informative speakers. In order to meet the increasing demand, we need more space to “Preserve The Past… Enrich The Future.

We need to raise $750,000 to complete Phase I of our Capital Campaign.  The major focus of Phase I is making our building ADA compliant.  The tasks involved in this phase include:

    • Upgrade electrical systems
    • Add an elevator (Shindler 3100)
    • Add a staircase around the elevator
    • HVAC for the entire second floor (Heat pump and air conditioning)
    • Ramps to the side yard of the property

The Phase I plans we have made will allow people with mobility challenges to access both the second floor and the side yard.  They will also let volunteers move artifacts, showcases, and people between the floors.  

The need for HVAC on the second floor is far more than for the comfort of volunteers and visitors.  We have 8 rooms of artifacts on the upper floor (the old Sunday School rooms) that currently are heated to 55° in the winter, but in the summer, temperatures can reach well over 100°+.  This is not ideal for preserving items we want to keep for future generations to enjoy!  Many of these rooms are filled to overflowing so moving the museum to the sanctuary will open up more storage areas in subsequent phases.

We have not yet identified additional phases, but Phase 1 will place the elevator close to the main door at 204 Church Street and it will open into the sanctuary.  Imagine stepping off the elevator into a grand museum in the sanctuary with high ceilings and beautiful artifacts.  We need to complete Phase I, so we can move the museum upstairs into larger quarters.  WILL YOU HELP?

PHASE I – work will allow future museum expansion and exhibit work areas to the upper floor of the space, research library, and volunteer building; upgrading electric service to the building, and providing an elevator and ADA access ramps for full both floors; adding full HVAC to the accessibility.

PHASE II – Work will build on Phase I by relocating the museum and research/work area to a brighter, more functional space; provide a more valuable visitor experience, and promote a greater appreciation of the rich history of the Phoenixville Area through a:

  • A larger and brighter museum and exhibit area
  • An enhanced entrance and access to the upper floor
  • An expanded David M. Frees, Jr. Research Library with computer stations
  • A new meeting room/classroom
  • Increased storage space for our growing collection of artifacts photographs, and documents
  • Improved lighting and climate control throughout the building
  • The board of directors is all in with this phase!  Our board is made up of 15 members, all of whom have donated.  Our current total of donations by the Board is over $110,000!
  • The mailing to all members has raised another $193,000.00 in cash and pledges so far.  I say so far since I hope that after hearing our compelling presentations and how close we are, many of you will help with your generous donation!  Many thanks to all who have already donated; now you know even more about where your money is going.
  • We received two legacy gifts from the estates of two members who passed away.  
    • Dr. Joseph Cornett Jones bequeathed $12,800.00 in his will.
    • Dr. Donald Harrop bequeathed $250,000 in his will, $125,000.00 for the Capital Campaign and an additional $125,000.00 to be spent at the discretion of the board. 
    • These 2 legacy donations represent 18% of the total needed.  This exemplifies how important legacy donations can be!
  • Currently, we have submitted 2 applications for grants which are awarded for Handicapped Accessibility projects for hundreds of thousands of dollars.  A third application will be filed before its due date of March 2023.  We have not pinpointed exactly what the components of Phase 2 will be, but it would be amazing if we could keep the momentum moving forward.

I first want to thank all who have already completed pledge cards or donated to Phase 1 of our campaign.  The more successful our fundraising efforts, the more others will be willing to join us in our quest to make our museum and society better and better.  In addition, demonstrating that we are able to raise funds is often beneficial in obtaining grants and getting others on board with the cause.

If you do not believe that you can make a large donation at this time, but you feel you can make a 1-3 year commitment, consider giving what you can now and project how much you will give in each subsequent year and make a multi-year pledge.  

So far we have focused our solicitation on our members.  In the months to come the committee plans to take the campaign to the Phoenixville community and local businesses.

How YOU can help if you can’t help today!:

I’ve heard some folks say,

“I can’t help right now, the markets are down, and I need to save money for my kids/spouse/family.” 

All of these are good reasons to wait – but think of Dr. Jones’ and Dr. Harrop’s donations.  Both were legacy gifts that they added to their Last Will and Testament while they were alive.  They were able to help the Historical Society by leaving a portion of their assets to our 501(c)3 charity.  Not only does this benefit us, but it actually helps your family since making a donation to an approved charity like HSPA decreases tax implications when you pass.  In addition to these generous bequests, both gentlemen left comprehensive records for their families, indicating items that they wanted to see donated to HSPA. 

Please consider HSPA when you are doing your estate planning. Learn more about HSPA Planned Giving

-John Keenan, HSPA President

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