News and Tribune

August 2, 2013

Fire museum board OKs move to Jeffersonville

Vintage collection includes 18th century fire equipment

By DANIEL SUDDEATH
daniel.suddeath@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — The Vintage Fire Museum and Safety Education Center accepted Jeffersonville’s offer to move to the former Bales Auto building along Spring Street.

The Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission approved a lease for the museum to occupy the site Wednesday, and the museum’s board OK’d the deal Thursday.

The museum is located in the former Coyle auto building off Spring Street in downtown New Albany, but a purchase agreement for the building couldn’t be reached and the organization began searching for a new site earlier this year.

In June, museum officials approached the New Albany Redevelopment Commission about contributing to the purchase of the former Baptist Tabernacle building to store the vintage fire collection.

The New Albany commission never voted on a funding proposal, though members did request additional information and some city council members voiced support for keeping the museum in Floyd County.

But Curt Peters, president of the museum board, said Friday moving to Jeffersonville is the most fiscally responsible choice.

“We have been looking at trying to find a spot in New Albany, but everything we looked at appeared that it was going to involve a considerable additional debt,” Peters said.

Moving to Jeffersonville for a yearly lease of $500 “puts us in a position where we are going to be a sustainable museum for years to come,” he said.

The museum features the former collection of Fred Conway including a fire engine that was built in 1756. The museum opened in New Albany 2011 fueled primarily by private donations and fundraisers. The museum has mainly been open on Saturdays, and will continue to be until further notice.

Peters said officials are still determining when the collection will be moved, as he added some changes will need to be made to the former Bales building in order to accommodate the museum.

The best estimate at this time is that the museum will move to Jeffersonville in late October or November, he continued.

Peters expressed appreciation to the Coyle family for allowing the museum to occupy their New Albany building, and for the numerous supporters of the museum in Floyd County. But he added Jeffersonville will be a good fit for the museum, and credited Mayor Mike Moore for his support.

“A lot of people in New Albany, including city officials, have explored or tried to figure out options that would have been good for us,” Peters said. “This is really not a local museum, it’s a national museum, and they realized it would be great for the whole region and good for Jeffersonville.”

David Duggins, director of economic development and redevelopment for New Albany, wasn’t immediately available for comment on Friday.

The fire museum remains open in New Albany from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

ON THE WEB

• For more information, visit the website vintagefiremuseum.org