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Former Good Humor bar factory repurposed downtown Youngsgtown



Published: Fri, January 13, 2012 @ 12:15 a.m.

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The Mahoning Valley Historical Society has raised about $4.5 million of the $6 million needed to complete the renovation of the former Harry Burt Building on West Federal Street in Youngstown. The building, now named the Tyler Mahoning Valley History Center, is scheduled to open this fall as a historical-themed community center.

By Elise Franco

Efranco@vindy.com

Youngstown

It’s only fitting that the Harry Burt Building, with its rich local history, is home to the new Tyler Mahoning Valley History Center, the historical society’s executive director said.

Bill Lawson, Mahoning Valley Historical Society executive director, and Paul Ricciuti, consultant and former president at Ricciuti, Balog and Partners Architects, met Thursday with about 50 residents and visitors of Park Vista South in Youngstown to discuss the nearly complete renovation of the former Harry Burt Building downtown.

The Tyler Mahoning Valley History Center, named for Jeanne D. Tyler, who donated $700,000 to the project, is slated to open this fall, Lawson said.

The campaign for the center has raised about $4.5 million of its $6 million goal, Lawson said. He expects about 95 percent of the renovation work to be completed by April 1.

“After April, we have a lot of work in terms of outfitting the interior of the building,” he said. “Our target opening is fall 2012.”

The building at 325 W. Federal St. was once home to Harry Burt’s Good Humor factory and Ross Radio. The historical society’s plan was to transform it into a historical-themed community center that will house MVHS archives, display local and traveling exhibits and could play host to community or private events.

“This building has a rich history, so it’s only fitting that the historical society use it,” Lawson said.

Ricciuti said one of the most daunting tasks dur

ing the planning phase of the project was figuring out how to meet building-code requirements without ruining its historical integrity.

He said instead of tearing up floors to install safety stairwells and an elevator, the historical society leased a portion of city-owned property for $1.

Leasing the property, which butts up against the society’s property, allowed construction of the stairwells and elevator on the outer wall of the building.

Ricciuti discussed each level of the four-story building, which includes an 8,000-square-foot basement that will be used for archiving and storage, several new classroom spaces, window exhibits and a ballroom for events.

He said important touches of the building’s history — original wood flooring in the ballroom and a grand staircase — will remain intact, though its interior is getting a more modern face-lift.

“The original windows are still there; we just rebuilt them instead of replacing them,” he said. “We also refurbished four skylights and cleaned the terra cotta.

“We worked hard not to impact the original building or its historical integrity.”

Lawson also noted that opening the new center doesn’t mean closing the Arms Family Museum on Wick Avenue. “The Tyler center is an expansion project, and the Arms Museum is still a very important part of what we do.”

Lawson said once the center is complete, the MVHS will begin focusing on a preservation project at the Arms Museum.

Emily Powers, former MVHS board president, said after the meeting that she and other current and former board members are excited to see the finished center.

“I’m very enthusiastic for the way the building turned out,” she said. “They’ve turned that building into something special.”


Comments

1oldstown(213 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

More good money after bad. It would be nice if local philanthropists would channel their giving toward JOB CREATING projects rather than more expensive baubles that we don't need and can't afford to maintain. Don't we already have enough museums that no one visits? Industry and Labor Museum hello?

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2ytownsteelman(631 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

The MVHS has been in existence since 1875, is an accredited museum and they certainly do maintain their properties to a very high standard. This isn't government money being spent, this is private money, and unless you would like me to dictate where you spend your money then you have no place in dictating where donors spend theirs. How arrogant of you.

Not everything is about "jobs". We seem to be so damn preoccupied with "jobs" that perhaps we forget that there are other aspects of life that are important too. I suppose you would want to see Mill Creek park redeveloped into factory space, Stambaugh Auditorium demolished and for that matter all sports are a waste and should go away too.

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3northsideperson(365 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Even if you disagree, it seems rather presumptuous to be telling a philanthropist what to do with their money. If it went to job-creating projects, would it be philanthropy any more?

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4chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Sounds like an angry ytownsteelman. At this time it better all be about jobs. That is, unless you are president who can jaunt off for several weeks of christmas vacation to play golf and fund raise and whose wife goes early using taxpayer funds to pay for the charter jet.

Public perception is important. Every possible effort must be made to providing good union and non-union jobs to all citizens in the Valley. or the history the MVHS will be housing is the complete demise of the valley.

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5southsidedave(4867 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

It seems as though the $6 million could be better utilized elsewhere

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