WORTHINGTON — As the transformation of the Worthington Armory into the Nobles County History Center continues, the public is now invited to see how work on the building is progressing.
The Nobles County Historical Society hosted the first of what it expects to be several small-group tours late Tuesday afternoon, with visitors able to see the ongoing renovation efforts on all three of the Armory’s levels.
“We figured that, especially in light of COVID, there’s a need to again create some excitement for the project,” NCHS Executive Director Beth Rickers explained. “COVID has definitely affected our fundraising efforts, and we felt we needed to get some people coming through the building because they really need to see it to get invested in it.”
Attendance at Tuesday’s event was limited as a result of the ongoing pandemic, and social distancing and mask protocols were followed. This will be the case at future events, which will take place at times and dates to be determined.
“If there are people who want to be included on future tours, they should give us a call or email us,” Rickers said. The NCHS phone number is 376-4431; its email address is email@example.com.
Construction continues at the Ninth Street building, and was even taking place while visitors enjoyed their Tuesday tour. One key addition going inside the facility this week was a much-needed elevator.
“That’s a big piece of the puzzle to make it handicap-accessible, as well as a big part of the budget,” Rickers said.
Some of the other work occurring inside the Armory was tiling in the bathrooms, painting and refinishing wood flooring. Much of the work is taking place on the main level, as a plan for the NCHS to move its offices into the Armory by the end of the year remains in place.
The initial phase of the Armory renovation consists primarily of work on the main level, which will be home to office and exhibit space — not to mention a significantly more open “drill hall” (several walls have been knocked down) that most recently hosted WHS and other gymnastics programming. A second phase will focus on upper level renovations, while a third will concentrate on the basement.
Rickers is excited about what’s taking place inside the Armory, and also states that there’s plenty of fundraising remaining for what has been dubbed the Make History at the Armory Campaign. In order “to really do this right,” she said the goal for the campaign is at least $1.5 million. While some money has been raised, COVID-19 has slowed progress.
That’s why the tours are taking place, Rickers said — to show people in person why the Armory is a building well worth saving.
“People can realize that this is our last chance to save what is a historic building in the community and probably in the county,” Rickers said. “There have been a lot of buildings that didn’t get saved, and a lot of people do lament that.”