Termites destroying Luther Store museum in Swansea, funds needed

2022-08-16 09:40:27 By : Mr. Arvin Chen

SWANSEA — Bad things also come in small packages. And if the historic Luther Store Museum could talk, it would tell you so.

Ravaged in the COVID era by termites and powderpost beetles, the museum, owned and maintained by the Swansea Historical Society, requires extensive floor and window repair. And, for bad measure, the rear addition is pulling away from the main building.

With significant money needed to keep the Luther Store alive, town resident and Historical Society friend Sandra Clark has started a GoFundMe page, with the goal of raising $120,000.

“This is Swansea history,” Swansea Historical Society Vice President Cheryl Bogle said. “This is one of the last historical buildings we have left standing in town.”

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A pre-pandemic building inspection revealed interior and exterior wall damage, and the historical society was recently granted $125,000 by the Community Preservation Committee, exclusively for those wall repairs.

Closed more than two years due to the pandemic, the Luther Store, 64 Pearse Road, subsequently saw very limited traffic and attention. Except from the insects. While termites nesting in the crawl space went to town on the first floor, the powderpost beetles set their sites and appetites on artifacts and some parts of the building itself, including now-leaking windows.

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The pests have been eliminated, said Bogle. But the extensive and expensive repair work is staring the museum in the face. Building materials are already priced high, and because the Luther Store is on the National Register of Historic Places, only special materials and approved contractors may be used for repair/restoration.

Due to its backlog of jobs, the contractor, Island Construction of Fall River, cannot touch the building until the end of next spring, Bogle said.

The cost of fixing the rear addition pull-away is open-ended. Bogle said the mason, Jon Israel, must remove 16 square feet of brick before he can properly assess the repair. His early estimate, she said, is $40,000 to $60,000, at least.

“Things are quite expensive,” Bogle said, “but we are going to get this done.”

The Luther Store opened in 1813 and operated until 1925. The Historical Society has owned it since 1936.