Point Pleasant Museum Facing Financial Hurdles

Point Pleasant, W.Va.—Three years after a fire destroyed its building and essentially eliminated its source of income, the Point Pleasant River Museum and Lakin Ray Cook Learning Center has terminated the position of two employees, and its director is no longer drawing a salary.

Construction of a new museum nearby is underway, however.

In a message posted to Facebook on November 6, museum director James McCormick wrote, “We had to layoff due to zero revenue from the museum entry, no gift shop sales, few donations or grants to support paying of staff and additional costs due to requested environmental testing, loss of power, rebuilding central air system (in temporary office) and unforeseen construction costs (new museum) out of our control.”

Sisters Martha Fout and Ruth Fout, who had worked at the museum more than 15 years, were notified earlier that their jobs were terminated.

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McCormick could not be reached for comment.

The building that formerly housed the museum was heavily damaged in a fire on July 1, 2018. The museum’s board determined the building could not be repaired satisfactorily. A dispute over the historical nature of the building and whether it could be demolished followed. The building still stands, and a new museum is being built nearby in downtown Point Pleasant.

“I, however, personally will not draw one more penny until we open the doors or we raise enough funds to pay our staff and finish the museum and learning center entirely,” McCormick  wrote on his Facebook post. “Things to think about, we still have to build the inside of the museum, interactive displays, aquarium set up, kids section, signage and also set up the simulators. That is not cheap ($900,000) if we want to do it right, draw the visitors needed to sustain it and ensure our artifacts are properly maintained in the right conditions to preserve them perpetually. All this requires engineering and construction, and few of them work for free, but rest assured I will [work] until this is finished and finished right.

“It’s a sacrifice, but one that must be made to ensure our museum and learning center is world class and it brings history to life and prosperity to Pt. Pleasant and our region.”