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Renfrew groups eye plans for a multipurpose building

July 21, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - A committee of representatives from Renfrew Park and Museum and Renfrew Institute for Cultural & Environmental Studies is exploring the possibility of building a new multipurpose building on the historic property.

Officials from both organizations said they need more space to run their programs and are considering whether a shared structure is the way to go.

Renfrew Park and Museum, which operates out of an 18th-century farmhouse on the grounds, opened in 1975. Renfrew Institute has been operating since 1990 in an old, refurbished barn on the property. They share the same address, 1010 E. Main St.

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"We are both very cramped and are growing," said James Ross, curator at Renfrew Museum and Park. The idea of a shared multipurpose building was talked about by the directors of both organizations before Ross was hired in July 2003, he said.

Renfrew Institute puts on environmental educational programs and programs about farm life in the 1800s for schoolchildren from across the Tri-State area, said Melodie Anderson-Smith, institute director.

It holds weekend events for children and adults, and sponsors lectures and workshops in the visitors center.

"Sometimes we have as many as 70 people at a program. It gets crowded," she said.

A new building could house a larger visitors center, classroom, exhibit and office space, Ross and Anderson-Smith said.

Anderson-Smith said the committee is visiting museums, parks and cultural centers to see how new buildings fit in with existing structures.

Anderson-Smith and Ross said whatever design is selected will have to protect and enhance the historic integrity of existing Renfrew buildings.

"It's a sensitive subject," Ross said.

He said it's too soon to discuss the size or cost of a building.

"We're starting from scratch," Ross said.

Both organizations would have to raise the funds to build, he said.

Renfrew officials sent a letter about the proposal to the Waynesboro Borough Council. The borough owns the property.

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