Few people get excited about a small hole in the ground.
But some 40 people who attended a groundbreaking ceremony at R.J. Haney Heritage Village last Wednesday were thrilled.
Putting the shovel in the ground was the first step in getting the $1.2 million Montebello project underway.
The large building will occupy an area across from the village’s current blacksmith shop and will be a representation of long-ago Salmon Arm.
Storefronts will include the Miss Puff Millinery Dress Shop, S.M. McGuire General Merchant, Telephone Exchange, an ice cream shop, pharmacy and the Bank of Hamilton.
Turn the corner to Lingford’s Photo Studio, A.E. Palmer’s the butcher shop and predecessor to Askew’s Foods, a barber shop with pool table and the Salmon Arm Observer with a printing shop. At the back on the main level will be 6,000 square feet of archive space to store the museum collection.
“A door leads into a containment area where items can be taken in, cleaned off and catalogued before they go into the climate-controlled collection area,” says village manager Susan Mackie. “There’s another 600 square feet for a vault that will contain things that cannot be replaced in the case of fire or flood.”
Museum curator Deborah Chapman and her volunteers will get 800 square feet of workspace.
Back at the front of the Montebello Block, enter the General Merchant, which will be the new gift store, set up as an exhibit to show visitors what the store was like long ago.
“It will also be the gateway into the new museum gallery,” says Mackie with happy enthusiasm, noting each business will have an exhibit inside.
“Not only are we finishing the stories (of the pioneer families represented in the park), we’re completing the streetscape. We’re giving density to the park and enhancing our experience.”
Salmon Arm Museum and Heritage Association president Doug Adams says the project was dubbed Montebello so people will be able to identify it.
Some 40 people attended the groundbreaking ceremony, where association president Norma Harisch provided a history of the project. That was followed by remarks from South Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo, Mayor Nancy Cooper and Bill Laird, honorary chair of the fund development committee.
“He is our general contractor and one of our major donors,” notes Adams, pointing out Laird’s Excel Construction is building the Montebello Block but donating his contracting fee back to the village.
“And he keeps giving more and more,” adds Mackie.
The existing museum will become the new tearoom and will be called Sprig of Heather instead of Marjorie’s Tearoom because that was the long-ago name of a downtown tea room.
Adams says everyone connected with the project is thrilled to have just about reached the $900,000 mark of the $1.4 million needed to complete the Montebello Block. In his remarks at the groundbreaking, he told the assembly the number changes almost every day as more and people come onboard.
Adams says the plan is to celebrate the grand opening of the Montebello Block on July 1, 2017.