Museum seeks to join downtown revitalization efforts New landscaping would connect grounds to Turnbow Park

Shiloh Museum

Showroom size: 4,500 square feet

Hallway space used for exhibits: 200 square feet, 200 linear feet

Number of visitors: 5,000 on average per year from 2017 to 2019

Number of visitors 2020: 1,300; 2021, approximately 3,000

Number of visitors expected this year: 6.00 to 7.000

Number of visitors for the program: 30,000 from 2017 to 2019; 20,000 in 2021

Source: Shiloh Museum of Ozark History

Springdale Public Library

Library size: 42,000 square feet

Area of ​​proposed expansion: 3,000 square feet

Number of books: 131,279

People served in 2021: 86,941 visitors, 486,805 articles checked

Source: Springdale Public Library

SPRINGDALE – The Shiloh Museum of Ozark History and the Springdale Public Library are both working to grow with the city.

The museum is planning new entrances for the building and landscaping connecting the campus to Turnbow Park, which is to the southeast, just across West Johnson Avenue, said Angie Albright, director of the museum.

The park has become one of the centerpieces of the city’s efforts to revitalize its downtown.

City Council on Tuesday approved a contract with Clements & Associates Architecture in Little Rock to design the project for 11% of the construction cost. The design will be paid for by the museum’s board of trustees.

Albright said she expects the design work to cost around $10,000.

The museum is working this year with an operating budget of $991,000 from the city.

The museum’s board of trustees, which also serves as a trustee for a museum endowment, works with about $200,000 received from donations and fundraisers, Albright said. She said the museum’s endowment held more than $2 million.

“And he hasn’t been touched for 30 years,” she said.

Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse appoints residents to council. The City Council approves appointments as well as all museum expenditures.

Marcia Ransom, director of the library, said Thursday that she would ask the library board this week to start looking for architects to close off a rarely used patio at the library’s northwest corner.

The space would provide more room for library programs, which have come back strong since covid-19 closed the library in 2020, Ransom said.

Ransom said the cost of the project and how it will be paid for has not been determined.

“Is this a $1 million project? Is this a $2 million project?” she asked. “I don’t know. And the construction costs right now are crazy.”

The library operates similarly to the museum, with a board appointed by the mayor and approved by the council.

Members of the Springdale Public Library Board of Trustees also serve as trustees for the library’s endowment. The endowment distinguishes itself from the city with a 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, Ransom said. The council can spend its money without the approval of the council.

Ransom did not share the endowment amount.

The Springdale Library operates on a budget of $2.6 million, which includes funds from the city, the Washington County Library System, and the Arkansas State Library.

On the ground

Albright once noticed a cyclist on the Razorback Greenway, which borders the east side of the museum along Spring Creek. The man parked his bike and walked on the museum grounds.

“He snooped around historic buildings,” she said.

The museum, to the east of its exhibit building, includes a general store, doctor’s office, log cabin, and farmhouse, all dating to the late 1800s. Several of the buildings remain open for exploration .

Albright said the man did not enter the museum. She thought it was because he was wearing his cycling clothes.

But her visit aligned with her vision for the museum as well as the vision of several generations of museum leaders, she said.

“We want to stay true to our historic mission, but we want to appeal to an audience that is continually changing and diversifying,” she said.

Albright said the landscaping project will also provide each structure with an interpretive marker telling its story.

Current museum staff and board members hope the new landscape design will make the museum’s outdoor space even more welcoming, a park-like setting that will flow seamlessly from Turnbow Park, he said. she declared.

The museum would be a downtown approach to the city. The improved museum grounds would drain into Turnbow Park. Turnbow flows to Shiloh Square, which crosses West Emma Avenue to a public green space.

Jill Dabbs, executive director of downtown Springdale, said a use of green space has yet to be determined.

Turnbow Park on the last Thursday night of the warmer months features live music presented by Downtown Springdale. Visitors could easily sit on the museum’s lawn to enjoy the music, Albright said.

The museum also plans to include renovations to the lobby, bathrooms, main entrance on Johnson Street, and the east entrance, which leads to the museum grounds. Staff hope to include painting the exterior of the Shiloh Assembly Hall in the project. The architect will determine the price of the project in plans that he will submit to the museum.

Clements was the architect and contractor for the renovation of the 1871 Assembly Hall, one of the oldest buildings in northwest Arkansas. The Hall served as a gathering place for religious congregations, fraternal organizations, and civic clubs, and hosted many community events.

Painters were working last week on the walls of the lobby and community hall. The $33,000 cost is paid for by the museum’s board of trustees.

“These areas have not been touched since the museum opened in 1991,” Albright explained.

The museum’s board paid for much of the ongoing preservation work, Albright said. This advice has tackled everything from roof repairs to programming, she said.

On the shelves

A 2015 needs assessment conducted by the Springdale Public Library showed that the library would need more space. Richard Waters of Godfrey’s Associates, a library consulting firm in Dallas, noted best practices for libraries that space should equal about 1 square foot per city resident, including staff members working in building.

The 2020 census recorded 83,000 people living in Springdale. Outdoor space near the children’s section would provide an additional 3,000 square feet if enclosed, Ransom said. The addition would bring the total area of ​​the library to 46,000 square feet.

The cost of the expansion was estimated at $530,000 to $700,000 in 2015, but Ransom said it would take an update with today’s construction costs.

The biggest elements of the project would include building a roof for the area and attaching it to the current roof, as well as air conditioning and heating systems, she said.

Librarians would use this space for programs.

The February 2020 city council denied a request for $141,000 to renovate the library bathrooms, which were last updated in 2010. The needs assessment showed the bathrooms would have should have been updated a long time ago.

Ransom said US bailout money from the Arkansas State Library Board could help pay for the renovation. The Springdale Library received $156,000.

The local library board holds the money, possibly for this project, Ransom said.

Library staff also applied for a $25,000 bailout grant that would help install touchless devices in bathrooms, to help stop the spread of the covid-19 virus and other germs.

The library earlier received $56,000 in bailout money that was used to upgrade the technology, Ransom said.

Other possibilities are for the city council to fund the bathrooms as a capital project, or Sprouse could include library updates as part of the next bond issue, Ransom said.

This 2015 needs assessment listed 15 improvements, and most were done with money from the local library board and the city’s fund for capital improvements. Together, the money helped build offices for staff and provide two electronic systems for sorting books. City money provided a new telephone system, replaced a boiler for a heating unit, installed an LED lighting system and new book shelving units.

Most maintenance improvements such as electrical or plumbing come from the library’s annual budget.

The Springdale Public Library Foundation receives money from an endowment created 50 years ago, Ransom said.

The foundation has funded many projects over the years, including equipment and furniture. The board pays for operations that the library’s operating budget does not include.

The Shiloh Meeting Hall is seen on Saturday, April 16, 2022. The historic building is part of the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
photo Peeling paint is evident Saturday, April 16, 2022 outside the Shiloh Meeting Hall which is part of the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
photo People are asking for a performance of “Laura Ingalls Wilder: Voice of the Prairie” at the Shiloh Meeting Hall on Saturday, April 16, 2022, which is part of the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale. Some renovations and upgrades are planned for the museum located downtown. Go to to see more photos. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)

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