- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 14, 2002

RICHMOND Virginia's only museum dedicated to police and firefighter history must raise $125,000 by June 1 or it will have to close.
Officials of the Virginia Fire and Police Museum said in late April that state budget cuts and a decline in private donations have left the institution without enough funds to continue operating. The museum, located in a historic former fire station in Richmond's Jackson Ward area, has a deficit approaching $60,000.
The $125,000 that the museum is seeking "will carry us over for one year," said Executive Director Susan Longest, adding that even that amount, however, represents "a very slim budget."
Pat Harris, president of the museum's board of directors, said the institution already has "cut back programs, staff and services." He said the staff has been cut to two persons from five, and the museum has received no state funding for the past two years.
"We're at the point that if we can't get a significant infusion of funding, we will have to shut down," Mr. Harris said.
If that happens, Miss Longest said, items in the museum's collection that are on loan will be returned to their owners. Items owned by the museum "will be turned over to like institutions," she said.
The museum's collection includes a fire-ladder wagon dating from 1790, a steam fire engine made in 1906, more than 800 historic photos, more than 200 fire and police logbooks, and some 600 badges and helmets dating back to the 1700s.
The museum owns its building, a national historic landmark that was home to Steamer Co. No. 5 from 1849 to 1968 and housed Richmond's 3rd Police Precinct from 1865 to 1898.
Miss Longest said closing the museum would be a setback to revitalization efforts in historic Jackson Ward, once the hub of Richmond's black business community.
Recent fund-raising efforts have yielded few results, Miss Longest said, but the museum is pursuing corporate donors. A plan being developed by Colonial Downs horse-racing track "would help out, but it won't start until July," she said.


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