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Point Pleasant River Museum Finds New Location

The Point Pleasant River Museum and Learning Center has found a site for a new home. Now the task is to design and build that new home.

The optimistic timeline calls for having the new site up and running before the end of 2020.

The museum in downtown Point Pleasant, W.Va., overlooked the mouth of the Kanawha River. The museum’s staff has operated out of an office and storage space since a fire on July 1, 2018, destroyed the old building.

On October 30, the museum purchased two old buildings and two vacant lots on Main Street in downtown Point Pleasant. The acquisition cost $150,000, most of which was supplied by a donor who prefers to remain anonymous, according to Jack Fowler, the museum’s executive director.

“Now we’ve got to figure out what we’re going to put on it,” Fowler said this week.

One possibility for the property, which measures 165 feet square, is a building designed to resemble a towboat, although that is only an idea at the moment, Fowler said.

“We just haven’t gotten together on what we’re going to build,” he said.

The city of Point Pleasant owned the building that burned. It received about $2 million in an insurance settlement. Cleanup and other expenses in the fire’s aftermath have brought the available city money down to about $1.6 million, Fowler said.

The museum bought the property. It will demolish the two existing structures and prepare the site for construction. Then it will deed it over to the city for construction of the new building, Fowler said. That could all occur before the end of this year, he said.

Fowler said he does not expect any problems with asbestos. The museum must still receive permission from a historical group for demolition. That could come after a public hearing next week, he said.

“Right after the first of the year, we ought to be able to talk about doing something,” Fowler said. “I’m hoping that within a year, we’re ready to talk about a dedication.”

In its former location, the museum housed river-related artwork, steamboat models and other artifacts relating to navigation on the Ohio and Kanawha rivers in the Point Pleasant area. It also had a library that, in addition to books, contained riverboat photos. Some materials were damaged by fire or water, but many of the building’s contents were saved.

A newer section of the building, the one that housed an aquarium and two towboat pilot simulators, was not damaged in the fire.

The museum also housed equipment used in radar training and certification for towboat pilots.

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