Kentucky Historical Society
Kentucky Military History Museum to Undergo Preservation Efforts
Frankfort, KY (October 10, 2008)—Beginning on Monday, October 13, 2008, the Kentucky Military History Museum, housed in the Old State Arsenal in Frankfort, will undergo extensive preservation work in an ongoing effort to protect this important Kentucky historical site. Repairs to the Arsenal, which are being funded by the Kentucky Department of Military Affairs, will be completed in a manner that honors the historically significant building.
Interior rehabilitation began in November 2007 when the HVAC system was upgraded. The temporary closure of the museum provided the opportunity for a comprehensive assessment of the structure. The resulting study noted substantial damage to the masonry surrounding the museum’s windows, caused by the addition of iron bars at the turn of the century. Research revealed that the iron bars were added to the building in the 1920s and, therefore, were not original. Over time, the iron bars have caused the bricks around the windows and the mortar joints to loosen. After consulting with the Kentucky Heritage Council and K. Norman Berry Associates Architects, the determination was made that removing the iron bars was the best decision for the long-term preservation of this state treasure.
The planned work includes removing the bars, repairing the windows, repainting the trim to match its original color, and repairing the damaged masonry. These changes will stabilize the structure and serve as the first steps to returning the building to its pre-Civil War appearance.
“This project is part of an extensive effort to revitalize the Kentucky Military History Museum,” said Kent Whitworth, executive director of the Kentucky Historical Society. “Changes to the exterior and interior provide the Kentucky Historical Society with a tremendous opportunity to ensure that Kentucky’s military heritage can be shared with future generations.”
The fresh appearance of the Kentucky Military History Museum, listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, will be in keeping with the mission of the Kentucky Historical Society to provide connections to the past, perspective on the present, and inspiration for the future. The Kentucky Military History Museum is part of the Kentucky Historical Society’s campus and is operated jointly with the Kentucky National Guard.
Constructed in 1850, the museum is located on Arsenal Hill near downtown Frankfort. The building served as a warehouse for military equipment and munitions for the Frankfort militia. During the Civil War, it housed a cartridge factory, employing many women, and became a point of defense for the capitol. A fire in 1933 destroyed the roof of the building and damaged the second floor, but left the first floor intact. The building was used as a storage facility until being tapped as the Military Heritage Museum in 1973.
During the closure for repairs, the Kentucky Historical Society maintains its commitment to the preservation and presentation of Kentucky military history with a new exhibition that explores the commonwealth’s proud and rich military history. Tentatively titled Kentucky Treasures: The Military History Collection, this exhibition is slated to open in 2009 at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History.
An agency of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, the Kentucky Historical Society, since 1836, has provided connections to the past, perspective on the present, and inspiration for the future. KHS operates the Old State Capitol, the Kentucky Military History Museum, and its headquarters, the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History. Since 1999, the thirty-million-dollar Center has welcomed more than one million visitors. For more information about the Kentucky Historical Society and its programs, visit the Web site at www.history.ky.gov.