Necessary Demolition

Demolition began on the G.W. Blunt White Building in January 2015

Demolition began on the G.W. Blunt White Building in January 2015

The construction and reconfiguring of the north end of campus for the new McGraw Gallery Quadrangle required the demolition of three buildings: the G.W. Blunt White Building, the former mill outbuilding that housed the Benjamin F. Packard Cabin, and the North Boat Shed. The decision to raze these structures was reached only after careful consideration and made in consultation with state and local historic preservation agencies, who did not object to the decision.

The largest of the structures was the G. W. Blunt White Building, which is familiar to anyone driving by the north entrance on Greenmanville Ave. (Rte. 27). Constructed in 1964, it was purpose-built to house the Museum’s growing library. Unfortunately, throughout its existence the building suffered from chronic flooding due to the site’s high water table and moisture and mold was a perennial problem. In fact, the unsuitable conditions in the building resulted in the research library being moved across the street to the Collections Research Center some years ago. Serious thought was given to incorporating the granite-veneer core of the building into the new exhibition hall, but the environmental issues and additional construction costs could not be justified. In the end, completely new construction set back from the road made more sense for the overall project and site.

The building that formerly housed the PACKARD Cabin

The building that formerly housed the Benjamin F. Packard Cabin prior to demolition. The North Boat Shed is at left.

The brick outbuilding that housed the Packard Cabin once housed power machinery for the mill complex that existed on the property prior to the Museum. The Stillman and Wendell Buildings were also part of that complex. The structure dated from the early 1890s. The exhibit is being relocated to the second floor of the Stillman Building, where it will be the focal point of a larger exhibition on the American merchant trade.

The North Boat Shed began life as an open-air pavilion that was later enclosed to better shelter the boats on exhibit inside. The boats have been moved into the watercraft storage hall in the Collections Research Center across the street.