By Dean Vaglia
Leader Staff Writer
The Northeast Oakland Historical Society celebrated the grand re-opening of their downtown Oxford museum this past Sunday.
“It is a great feeling to have all these smiling faces back in this building,” society president Bryan Cloutier said in his opening remarks. “It’s been a long time, it’s been a long journey to get to where we are today in terms of the transformation of what has taken place behind the scenes.”
The historical society made several upgrades and renovations to the museum over the summer.
“When we were in mandatory shutdown, we did take advantage of the opportunity,” Cloutier said ahead of the event. “The board met and we did an assessment of the building.”
One issue the board dealt with was moisture seeping into the basement.
“We had moisture coming through the walls in the basement,” Cloutier said. “We didn’t have standing water in our basement, but we did have an excess of moisture seeping through the original walls of the basement.”
Hiring National Restoration to re-seal both the interior and exterior walls, the board turned their attention to other renovations.
“We had painters come in and of course they repainted all of the walls on the lower level and upper level of the building,” Cloutier said. “We did have some patchwork done because we had some cracks in the old plasterwork and things of that nature that had to be resolved. The interior of the building was completely repainted, and we did so by going through old photographs of the building back when it was the bank and trying to determine the color schemes based on those photographs of what the original look and feel of the old bank would have been.”
The attention to detail taken when restoring the interior was present when replacing the windows to a more era-appropriate style.
“We also went back and looked at the glass blocks that were installed on the south wall of the building,” Cloutier said. “The block windows … were old, they were deteriorating, [and] they were becoming a potential hazard. We had those completely removed and we had brand new windows custom built to fit the opening and also to take on the look and design of what the front of the building looks like and what the original design of the building sort of looked like.”
The new windows have an ultraviolet light-blocking film to keep artifacts from receiving UV damage, and special blinds to provide further protection are on the way. Awnings were removed to better resemble the bank’s historical look.
Though the grand reopening was invite-only, the museum is open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursdays, Saturdays and during downtown events. Visitors can see the new exhibit on the 1896 Great Cyclone and other artifacts of days past in northeast Oakland County.