Industrial History Center closes in on fundraising goal

Courtesy photoAmesbury Carriage Museum Executive Director John Mayer gives Amesbury Innovation High School students a tour of the Industrial History Center's new home.

AMESBURY — Amesbury Carriage Museum's Industrial History Center is preparing to welcome its first visitors this fall as leaders move closer toward the nonprofit's fundraising goal.

The museum launched a $700,000 capital campaign in late 2018 to turn the dream of the center into a reality in the Upper Millyard.

Executive Director John Mayer said the realities of construction costs and the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the capital campaign's goal up to $920,000. That campaign has already surpassed the original goal and raised more than $860,000.

"I am totally humbled by this," Mayer said. "People hear about this and they want to be a part of the campaign. It has been really touching. For some people, making a $10 gift is like making a $1,000 gift for others. So I appreciate the commitment."

Mayer said the Industrial History Center project has received donations from roughly 200 donors, including the Newburyport Bank Charitable Foundation, the Institution for Savings and the Mary Alice Arakelian Foundation, as well local businesses and the public.

"Our smallest donation was $10 and the largest from a single donor was $175,000," Mayer said. "We were also awarded a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council of $120,000 that we need to match."

Mayer expressed his thanks to Dan Healey for two endowments totaling $175,000 that the ARC Technologies founder made to the project.

"We just got a large pledge over the weekend and I feel very, very optimistic," Mayer said. "We are still asking people in the community to support us. But the bottom line is, we look like we are in a really strong position, much stronger than we were when we had our groundbreaking last fall."

The center will be housed in approximately 2,700 square feet of space in the Amesbury Industrial Supply building on High Street that was donated by owner Greg Jardis in 2018.

"We had a rough idea of what we needed when we started this project three years ago," Mayer said. "We had around a $700,000 budget then but there have been many factors that have driven the price up along the way. The good news is, we are almost at $900,000."

The center's landscaping should be completed this week and a canopy in place by mid-June, according to Mayer.

The Carriage Museum intends to make use of public events in the Upper Millyard over the summer to get the word out and let people know that programming is on the way.

"We will have a walking tour or a workshop or a program so that we can begin to get people comfortable and familiar with what we have to offer," Mayer said. "I have a designer working with me on the exhibits that we will have inside. This will take a number of months to complete but we have a plan and I am working on the details now.

"So, we expect that we should begin putting elements into the Industrial History Center in July," he added. Then, we want to have all of the details in place so that we can have a grand opening in October."

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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