Statement issued Tuesday:
The public is invited to witness the ribbon cutting and dedication of the newly restored Shields Room at the History Center on Tuesday, February 15, at 2 p.m.
The project, which encompasses the former City Council Chambers and Courtroom at 302 East Berry Street, was financed by local foundations and individuals.
The Old City Council Chambers and Courtroom is in the Old City Hall Building, which was built in 1893 and has been home to the History Center since 1980. The turreted, arched and towered Richardsonian-Romanesque structure is one of the oldest in downtown Fort Wayne and stands as a symbol of the civic pride and confidence in the community at the turn of the 20th century. The city vacated the building in 1971.
The newly restored, second floor room is 2,700 square feet with 22 foot high ceilings. The beginnings of the restoration project were to analyze paint, woodwork, wainscoting and decorative elements in a “reveal slice” to show the room’s Victorian-era décor. The Journal Gazette Foundation funded this phase of the restoration in 2003, allowing the History Center to secure funding for the final phases of the restoration in the following years.
The total cost of the project, which can be viewed via photographs on the organization’s Facebook page, was over $250,000. James and Margaret Shields, the Journal Gazette Foundation, the John and James Knight Foundation, the Edwin M. and Mary McCrea Wilson Foundation, and numerous private donors provided the funding for the project beyond its initial phase.
Building Arts and Conservation of Saline, Michigan performed the bulk of the restoration work with finishing touches supplied by Knox Decorative Painting of Fort Wayne.
The room is available for rent as a venue for meetings, parties, receptions, weddings or other events. Rental of the room includes viewing of displays and exhibits throughout the museum.
The History Center annually receives about 40,000 visitors and in 2010 had a record breaking attendance of over 11,000 at the 25th Annual Festival of Gingerbread.
The Heritage Education Fund allows for free attendance and transportation reimbursement for school groups to tour the museum. Nearly 200 school groups are slated to visit this school year. A free monthly lecture series for the general public, a gift shop, and a variety of exhibits of Allen County history are also available.
A newly created blog by the History Center, “History Center Notes and Queries” is available at http://historycenterfw.blogspot.com/.
The blog supplements the George R. Mather Lectures and the History Center’s publications such as the “Old Fort News” and provides information for those wishing to know more about our community as they explore the museum and other historical sites in the city and county. New posts to the blog can also be found via the History Center’s Facebook page.
For more information, contact the History Center at (260) 426-2882 or visit the website at www.fwhistorycenter.com.