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Culpeper museum moving to Depot

The Culpeper Town Council voted Tuesday night to allow the Museum of Culpeper History to move into part of the Depot on Commerce Street.

That decision, however, did not come without controversy.

During a public forum, Susan Williams, who has volunteered her time to do numerous programs at the museum, criticized the move, saying that it would mean abandoning the Burgandine House, which is reported to be the town’s oldest building.

That 18th-century structure stands adjacent to the museum at its present South Main Street location and the lawn between the two buildings is frequently used for living history demonstrations.

“The Burgandine House cannot stand on its own,” Williams told the council. “It is the only public place of historic significance open in Culpeper.”

Benjamin Works also spoke out against the move, saying that the Burgandine House could not accompany the museum and that the vibrations from the railroad tracks might damage historic artifacts.

Tammy Barboza, representing the museum’s board of trustees, said, however, that the Burgandine House will remain a satellite of the museum and that present programs will not be abandoned.

“Moving to the heart of downtown Culpeper will be a tremendous boost to the museum,” Barboza said. “The Depot will offer more display and storage space and will help to implement more cultural events and programs.”

Councilman Dave Lockridge noted that “for two years running the museum has seen a decline in visitors.” He added that “[the museum] came to us for $30,000 in additional funding this year and they’re going to come to us in future years asking for more taxpayer money.”

Lochridge said that almost 30,000 people came through the Depot area (which includes the town visitor’s center) last year and that should boost traffic at the museum.

Dan Boring, the only member of the council to vote against allowing the museum to occupy part of the Depot, said, “I’m still not convinced about plans for the Burgandine House. It will just be sitting there.”

It is still unclear what will move into the present museum space (the old library building) when it is abandoned.

Williams said that she disapproved of the move so strongly that she and some of her associates, who put on living history shows in period dress, may cut ties with the institution.

It is reported that moving the museum to the Depot will cut its expenses by as much as $16,400 per year.

The move (no date has been set) will cost about $27,000, according to Museum Director Lee Langston Harrison.

As has become the custom lately, the Town council took another pounding during its public forum session last night.

Wilbert Carmichael said he came before the council three years ago advocating a community youth center and had heard nothing from the body.

“Are you for the children of the town or are you just on the [council],” he asked. “If so, maybe we need someone else up there in your place.”

Two citizens complained that nothing had been done about flooding problems in various parts of the town and Tom Letts again complained about crime and traffic problems on Dog Hill. George Bryson also raked the council over the coals regarding the new inner loop road.

“I hope everybody [on the council] is listening to what the taxpayers are saying to you,” Nancy Richmond told the group.


Donnie Johnston: