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Liverpool's Perkins House, Nova Scotia Museum's oldest site, closed for foreseeable future


LIVERPOOL - The Perkins House museum will be closed for at least the 2015 season and its future is uncertain.

The closure is happening due to structural issues in the foundation of the house. The museum has been open to the public every year since it became a museum in 1957.

Glenn Friel, a spokesperson for the Department of Communities, Culture, and Heritage, says he can’t say when the site will re-open.

Friel says in a statement, the museum is important to the province, but “the government also has an obligation to balance these needs with demands for core services such as education and health care.”

Closure of the Perkins House museum is not just impacting the site, but also the Queens County Museum and its programming.

Linda Rafuse, manager of the Queens County Museum and Perkins House, says the museum was not given a budget for the staff members normally shared between both sites.

 That means that the Queens County Museum is running on a skeleton crew with just Rafuse, an administrator, a student and a caretaker. Rafuse says the employees have also taken a hit to their wages this year.

The Queens County Museum is a community museum, but most of its staff are shared with the Perkins House, which is owned by the provincial government and a part of the Nova Scotia Museum system.

The Perkins House hires three full-time interpreters every year and a shared student with the Queens County Museum. The three ful- time interpreters work from June 1 to Oct. 15. Rafuse says the loss of interpretive staff is a real problem.

Every year, the sites play host to hundreds of students from Queens and Lunenburg counties. This year, due to their lack of staff, the museum cannot provide programming to students. Rafuse and another staff member are taking on some programming on a case by case basis. 

 “We’ve actually taken that program to some of the schools so that we can maintain that partnership with schools,” says Rafuse. “Our board is finding it a challenge to create a budget to do all of this because it also affects Queens County Museum, the two sites are joined at the hip and everything has been affected by the closure.”

 Rafuse says the cut to staff was not expected. She had hoped interpretation would continue by at least one staff member through the Queens County Museum and by using the resources available at that site.

 “Visitors aren’t going to stop coming to Perkins House and that would have flowed quite nicely,” she says.

 She also says the long-time staff members who she had trained in a recent interpretive renewal plan may not come back when the site reopens and she would have to start fresh again if that happens.

 George Mitchell is chairman of the Queens County Museum board of trustees, the governing body that manages the sites. He wants to see Perkins House's situation handled quickly by the province.

“It’s part of the community and they look forward to being able to come and go as they wish,” says Mitchell. “As far as tourists are concerned its open, all the advertisements were done a year ago and they’re going to arrive here and find disappointment.”

Structural integrity

Perkins House is being supported by jacks that were put in place in 2014 due to concerns about the stone foundation of the house. Rafuse says the hope is to replace or support the foundation of the house and the jacks are temporary.

 “We were really happy that the jacks were put in place,” says Rafuse.

  She says the jacks were very important given the harsh winter Nova Scotia saw. Rafuse says the house barely budged during the winter.

 The Queens County Museum trustees have not been given a starting date for when construction will begin on the Perkins House, but they know that it will not start this summer.

 Rafuse says she’s been told by the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage that the project might be worked into the 2016 budget but there is no guarantee.

 “We realize and understand all of the preliminary leg work that has to be done before actual rebuild starts to happen, we know there is a need for another engineering report,” says Rafuse.

 She hopes that the preliminary measures can be done this year to prepare for the 2016 season. She says it’s “disappointing” that work will not begin this year.

 “This cannot be a long term project; this is a critical file that needs to move forward now,” says Rafuse.

 An icon

Mitchell and Rafuse both emphasize the importance of the house and its history.

“It is an icon,” says Rafuse.

The Perkins House is the oldest house in the Nova Scotia Museum system. It was build in 1766 and was used as a family home until after the Second World War. The house has been open to the public seasonally for 58 years. 2016 will mark the 250th anniversary of the building of the house, once owned by Simeon Perkins.

 “Our board will have a challenge to recover,” says Rafuse. “It will have a negative impact on tourism.”

Calls to Transportation and Infrastucture Renewal were not returned.

The closure is happening due to structural issues in the foundation of the house. The museum has been open to the public every year since it became a museum in 1957.

Glenn Friel, a spokesperson for the Department of Communities, Culture, and Heritage, says he can’t say when the site will re-open.

Friel says in a statement, the museum is important to the province, but “the government also has an obligation to balance these needs with demands for core services such as education and health care.”

Closure of the Perkins House museum is not just impacting the site, but also the Queens County Museum and its programming.

Linda Rafuse, manager of the Queens County Museum and Perkins House, says the museum was not given a budget for the staff members normally shared between both sites.

 That means that the Queens County Museum is running on a skeleton crew with just Rafuse, an administrator, a student and a caretaker. Rafuse says the employees have also taken a hit to their wages this year.

The Queens County Museum is a community museum, but most of its staff are shared with the Perkins House, which is owned by the provincial government and a part of the Nova Scotia Museum system.

The Perkins House hires three full-time interpreters every year and a shared student with the Queens County Museum. The three ful- time interpreters work from June 1 to Oct. 15. Rafuse says the loss of interpretive staff is a real problem.

Every year, the sites play host to hundreds of students from Queens and Lunenburg counties. This year, due to their lack of staff, the museum cannot provide programming to students. Rafuse and another staff member are taking on some programming on a case by case basis. 

 “We’ve actually taken that program to some of the schools so that we can maintain that partnership with schools,” says Rafuse. “Our board is finding it a challenge to create a budget to do all of this because it also affects Queens County Museum, the two sites are joined at the hip and everything has been affected by the closure.”

 Rafuse says the cut to staff was not expected. She had hoped interpretation would continue by at least one staff member through the Queens County Museum and by using the resources available at that site.

 “Visitors aren’t going to stop coming to Perkins House and that would have flowed quite nicely,” she says.

 She also says the long-time staff members who she had trained in a recent interpretive renewal plan may not come back when the site reopens and she would have to start fresh again if that happens.

 George Mitchell is chairman of the Queens County Museum board of trustees, the governing body that manages the sites. He wants to see Perkins House's situation handled quickly by the province.

“It’s part of the community and they look forward to being able to come and go as they wish,” says Mitchell. “As far as tourists are concerned its open, all the advertisements were done a year ago and they’re going to arrive here and find disappointment.”

Structural integrity

Perkins House is being supported by jacks that were put in place in 2014 due to concerns about the stone foundation of the house. Rafuse says the hope is to replace or support the foundation of the house and the jacks are temporary.

 “We were really happy that the jacks were put in place,” says Rafuse.

  She says the jacks were very important given the harsh winter Nova Scotia saw. Rafuse says the house barely budged during the winter.

 The Queens County Museum trustees have not been given a starting date for when construction will begin on the Perkins House, but they know that it will not start this summer.

 Rafuse says she’s been told by the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage that the project might be worked into the 2016 budget but there is no guarantee.

 “We realize and understand all of the preliminary leg work that has to be done before actual rebuild starts to happen, we know there is a need for another engineering report,” says Rafuse.

 She hopes that the preliminary measures can be done this year to prepare for the 2016 season. She says it’s “disappointing” that work will not begin this year.

 “This cannot be a long term project; this is a critical file that needs to move forward now,” says Rafuse.

 An icon

Mitchell and Rafuse both emphasize the importance of the house and its history.

“It is an icon,” says Rafuse.

The Perkins House is the oldest house in the Nova Scotia Museum system. It was build in 1766 and was used as a family home until after the Second World War. The house has been open to the public seasonally for 58 years. 2016 will mark the 250th anniversary of the building of the house, once owned by Simeon Perkins.

 “Our board will have a challenge to recover,” says Rafuse. “It will have a negative impact on tourism.”

Calls to Transportation and Infrastucture Renewal were not returned.

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