Bill Martin remembers attending the organizational meeting of the Kentucky Highlands Museum Society at McClure’s Restaurant in 1983.
“I never would have dreamed we’d be standing here 30 years later,” Martin, who was vice president of the society, said, speaking about the building that is home to the Highlands Museum and Discovery Center, the institution that the society became.
The Board of Governors of the Highlands Museum and Discovery Center took ownership of the C.H. Parsons Building Friday at a ceremony the museum called “A New Beginning.”
HMDC Governing Board President Chris Pullem said the process of the museum owning its building began we he “said something stupid” at a meeting.
“I said, ‘We’re going to own this building,’” he recalled, adding taking ownership of the building was possible in large part to the work of board and the Ladies of the Highlands.
“Our board members are amazing,” he said. “I’ve never worked with a group of people who have been more willing to commit time, expertise and money to support this regional treasure. None of this would be possible without their commitment and positive energy; they are all doers, not observers.”
The museum’s executive director, Carol R. Allen, agreed.
“I am truly humbled to work with the dedicated members of the governing and advisory boards and the Ladies of the Highlands, who have been rock solid advocates of the museum,” Allen said. “President Chris Pullem has led this venture without wavering to the success we are having today. We are excited to move toward making the museum the true gem that it has the potential to be with the addition of more space which can be developed later.”
Mayor Chuck Charles attended the event and offered his take on the advancements the museum has made.
“It’s a great thing for Ashland. It’s a great thing for the region. It’s a great thing for Kentucky, and now it’s a great thing for the United States because everyone who comes here can learn about our history,” Charles said.
“This is a perfect example of what (the people of) Ashland can do when they want to,” he continued.
In September, officials announced a deal had been reached between the museum’s board of directors and the Community and Technical College Foundation of Ashland for the museum to buy the building where it has been housed since 1994, at 1620 Winchester Ave.
The museum’s board of directors and the foundation were able to work out a deal after another buyer made a “viable offer for the building.” The museum was able to match it, working through a “consortium of banks that stepped up,” said Pullem.
The city makes an annual charitable contribution to the museum, but funding has been cut recently, as it has for all the nonprofits the city supports. The Ashland Board of City Commissioners approved a $16,000 contribution this year, a 20 percent reduction in previous contributions.
LEE WARD can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2661.