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Washington County Museum of Fine Arts courtyard project nearly completed

Several major donors to the project joined museum officials and project contractors for ceremony

April 28, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com
  • Howard Kaylor, a major donor to the project and a member of the museum's board of trustees, had the honor of laying the last brick in the new courtyard atrium at Washington County Museum of Fine Arts on Thursday.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

How many art lovers does it take to install one brick?

One dozen, it turns out — when the brick is the final, symbolic piece in an 11-month, $2.5 million project to enclose the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts courtyard.

Several major donors to the project joined museum officials and project contractors Thursday morning for a ceremonial laying of the final brick paver in the floor of the renovated courtyard at the museum in Hagerstown's City Park.

Now, only a few miscellaneous tasks remain to be completed before the atrium's official ribbon cutting in June, Project Manager Denis Rocco said. The air-conditioning system needs to be tested, and some lights and railings still need to be installed, museum officials said.

With other supporters gathered around, Howard Kaylor, a major donor to the project and a member of the museum's board of trustees, stooped to place the final brick in the hole that had been left for it. When the fit was not exact, Kaylor resorted to laying the brick beside the hole for the professionals to sort out later.

"They don't really match," he said.

That ceremonial glitch aside, participants agreed the nearly-finished space had exceeded their expectations.

"You think you know, as an architect, what it's going to be like, but it's even so much nicer," said Todd Grove of Murphy and Dittenhafer Architects.

The 3,000 square-foot courtyard, now enclosed under a glass ceiling, will be used for public events, art classes, workshops and other museum activities, Museum Director Rebecca Massie Lane said. It will also be available for private functions during hours when the museum is closed to the public.

The brick pavers for the floor of the courtyard were donated by Redland Brick, formerly Cushwa Brick, of Williamsport, Md.

"Mrs. (Jean) Cushwa, whose family owned the plant, came to see us and asked us to donate the brick, and we were really happy to do that, especially since it was a way for us to get our new 6-by-9 pavers out,"  Redland Brick President Joseph Miles said.

The pavers are part of a new line called the Tuscan Series and complement the existing brick walls of the museum, Miles said.

"These pavers are meant to give you the old-world look," he said. "They are not meant to be clean and precise."

Jean Cushwa, who sits on the museum board, also attended the ceremony and said she was pleased with how the work turned out.

"It's going to be gorgeous at night when it's lit," Cushwa said, pointing to holes where lights will be installed in the floor.

The enclosure will also enable the reopening of the original west doors to the 1930 Hyde and Shepherd building, Lane said.

"That will cause ... for those who grew up in the town and have lived here all their lives, a chance to basically go back in time and enter the museum as they remember doing until 1994, when the last addition was done," she said.

Also present at the event was William Young, president of the Alice Virginia and David W. Fletcher Foundation, which gave the museum a $400,000 matching grant in which every dollar donated to the project was matched with $2 from the foundation.

The museum still needs about $25,000 in donations to complete that challenge, Lane said.

Those interested in supporting the fundraising effort may contact the museum at 301-739-5727, she said.

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If you go...

What: Museum atrium open house and ribbon cutting

When: June 12, 2 to 3 p.m.

Where: Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in City Park

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