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Extension sought for Doleman museum to claim state funding

March 31, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com
  • Charles "Sonny" Doleman and his sister, Rosemary Doleman-Lucas, are seen in this Feb. 16, 2008, file photo sorting through some of the memorabilia collected by their mother, local historian Marguerite Doleman.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

ANNAPOLIS — Supporters are continuing to raise money for a proposed Doleman Black Heritage Museum in Hagerstown, hoping to claim state funding promised two years ago.

Through a 2009 bill sponsored by Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, the museum was awarded up to $25,000 from the state’s capital budget.

The condition — as is generally the case for state earmarks, known as bond bills — was that the museum first had to match the state money it was to receive. The museum had until June 1, 2011, to show evidence of its matching money.

So far, that’s been a challenge, which is why Donoghue submitted a bill this year asking to extend the deadline for presenting evidence of matching money to June 1, 2013.

As of Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee hadn’t acted on Donoghue’s request. Donoghue said the House and Senate probably will act on bond-bill extensions on the last day of the session, as they finalize a fiscal 2012 capital budget.

Fundraising for the planned museum hasn’t been easy.

“With the economy being what it is, it’s such a huge struggle,” said Alesia Parson-McBean, a former Hagerstown city councilwoman who is helping with the project.

Parson-McBean has said the nonprofit museum’s board is trying to raise $50,000 to operate a temporary facility.

Wendi Perry, the new curator/collections manager for the museum, said the overall funding goal now is about $100,000.

State bond bills are for capital projects.

Perry is working for the museum through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services in Washington, D.C.

The museum will house the lifelong collection of Marguerite Doleman, who died in 2000.

Supporters are trying to find a permanent, public home for the extensive collection.

Perry said a vacant storefront across from the U.S. Post Office branch on West Franklin Street is being considered as an exhibition space.

The museum also is looking at possible office space on Jonathan Street, she said.

On Feb. 26, the museum held a fundraising event featuring the Morgan State University choir.

Perry said the next fundraiser will be a June 25 fashion show with people dressed as historical figures.

Parson-McBean said many contributors to the fundraising efforts are from outside Washington County. The museum has made inroads through the Maryland Black Mayors Association and connections to other museums devoted to African-American history.

“The city of Hagerstown needs to understand the real significance of that museum ...,” said Sen. Joanne C. Benson, who represents Prince George’s County but grew up in Hagerstown and knew Doleman. “I think that it’s been really difficult because the people in the community have not been able to hook into the available resources, even in Hagerstown, that can assist them.”

She said it’s sad that other historical sites in Hagerstown, including the Harmon Hotel, have been torn down.

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