Astoria's Columbia River Maritime Museum is asking supporters to help fund an ambitious project to provide a state of the art storage facility for it's collection of artifacts that is thought to be the largest collection of maritime and related objects in the United States. The plans calls for the reuse of the Astoria Builders Supply buildings located just across Marine Drive from the museum, converting those into one of the finest state-of-the-art, secure and climate controlled collection storage facilities in the country. Museum Executive Director Sam Johnson says that the museum board took the unusual move of buying the buildings when they went up for a bankruptcy sale in January for $1.8 million. Johnson says the property is valued at $3.1 million with some 30,000 square feet on an acre of land. He says fiance costs will run the price up to nearly $2 million and start-up expenses will add another $347,000. Johnson says since April 1, $538,000 has been committed toward the acquisition part of the projects leaving some $1.2 million to be raised along with the additional start-up funding.
The Museum has mailed out a glossy proposal piece to members that details the project and asking for tax-free donations to make it happen. The main building would be used for special collections, fine arts storage, and make a conservation laboratory possible. It would also allow for expansion of the Museum's library and archives. Johnson says there would also be space for future Museum offices and a third floor apartment with a separate entrance that will provide lodging for visiting scholars and instructors at the Barbey Maritime Center. The warehouse next door that was designed for lumber storage would become a space to store the Museum's collection of regionally important boats.