A $4.5 million expansion and renovation project for the visitor center at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield now has the necessary local funding to begin work this year.
Funding surpassed the $1 million mark late last week, exceeding the total by more than $50,000, said April McDonough, executive director of Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Foundation. The National Park Service and the National Park Foundation are providing more than 75% of the project’s funding, with the remaining $1 million coming from the Wilson’s Creek foundation through donations and matching funds.
The National Park Service wanted participation from Wilson’s Creek for the project, McDonough said, with $1 million determined as the amount when the plan was announced. Sizable donations included $25,000 from Bass Pro Shops and $25,000 from the Cook Family Foundation. The Hulston Family Foundation also made a large donation at an undisclosed amount. McDonough said the Cook and Hulston donations put the foundation over the top to reach its goal.
Wilson’s Creek officials previously told Springfield Business Journal the funds needed to be delivered to the National Park Foundation by May 31 or the project risked not being included in the next fiscal year federal budget.
“We’re relieved and we’re also very excited that the project is going to go forward,” McDonough said yesterday. “We’re grateful to our donors, supporters and local community for supporting this effort.”
The project is designed to double exhibit space at the visitor center, 6424 W. Farm Road 182 in Republic, adding 1,870 square feet to highlight the park’s Civil War-era artifacts collection. The center is part of the park’s 2,010 acres. Park officials previously said if the fundraising goal was met by deadline, the project should begin in late October or early November, with May 2020 as the targeted completion date.
Donations are continuing to be accepted, McDonough said.
“Any other money we receive will go toward this project. It will allow us to do some extra things that weren’t covered in the original,” she said, citing other enhancements to exhibits, such as software or interactive kiosks.
The project also calls for an upgrade to the building’s heating and air conditioning systems, along with relocation of bathrooms to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. The expanded exhibition space will allow for more frequent rotation of the park’s 8,500 artifacts, according to officials.
McDonough said 70% of the $1 million in fundraising came from an estate donation made a couple of years ago following the death of Springfield resident Ralph Shreeve. Its value was $350,000, with the National Park Foundation matching the sum. The NPF subsequently provided a $150,000 challenge match, McDonough said.
That left $150,000 for the Wilson’s Creek foundation to raise, with the campaign starting in earnest in March.
“We were really optimistic,” McDonough said about reaching the fundraising goal by deadline. “We were reaching out to people that had helped us in the past.”
The completion of the fundraising campaign arrives just as the local foundation hosts a Spring Fling event Thursday at the battlefield. McDonough said the ticketed fundraising event, held every other year, features a reception, meal and Civil War-period barn dance.
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