Massena museum to expand

Massena Deputy Town Supervisor Samuel D. Carbone Jr. checks out the exhibits when the Celine G. Philibert Cultural Centre and Museum opened in 2016. Bob Beckstead/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — Larger exhibits will soon have a home at the Celine G. Philibert Memorial Cultural Centre and Museum in downtown Massena.

The Massena Town Council has awarded a contract to Heritage Homes to expand the museum, which opened its doors in 2016. The expansion will be done at what was formerly the drive-through area when the building belonged to SeaComm Federal Credit Union.

The expansion will be paid for using a $150,000 grant received from Sen. Joseph Griffo in 2018, as well as $40,000 that was left over from the sale of the building that formerly housed the museum on East Orvis Street, $63,000 in High Water Flow funding and in-kind services from the town’s Highway Department. Supervisor Steven D. O’Shaughnessy said some of that money has been undesignated and can now be used for the expansion.

Among the items that will be transferred to the museum once the expansion is complete is an antique hearse that has been in storage at another location.

“We’re going to use that to display larger artifacts we weren’t able to fit into the existing facility,” Mr. O’Shaughnessy said.

“I would like to see this job finished. We’ve got grant money sitting there and we’re waiting to get things moved to a permanent place. We need to get the hearse back where it belongs,” Deputy Supervisor Samuel D. Carbone Jr. said.

Although Heritage Homes will be responsible for the expansion, Mr. O’Shaughnessy said the town’s Highway Department can prepare the site for the project. Heritage Homes had also transformed what was formerly a credit union into a cultural center and museum after SeaComm consolidated its offices on Stearns Street.

The facility is named in honor of Dr. Philibert, a native of France who came to the north country to work at SUNY Potsdam and settled in Massena with local attorney Randy L. Peets. After she lost her battle with cancer, Mr. Peets sought a way to honor the woman he had shared his life with, as well as her love of art and culture, and chose to fund the purchase of the SeaComm building for cultural purposes in her memory. He then donated the building to the town to use as a cultural center and the new home of the Massena Museum.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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