Pitch made to make Butler County military museum more accessible to disabled

With two levels of steep stairs, the museum inside the Sailors Soldiers and Pioneers Monument — which houses military uniforms, records and artifacts — is hard to navigate. Butler County Commissioner Cindy Carpenter is proposing making the museum more accessible to those with physical disabilities. GREG LYNCH/2015
Caption
With two levels of steep stairs, the museum inside the Sailors Soldiers and Pioneers Monument — which houses military uniforms, records and artifacts — is hard to navigate. Butler County Commissioner Cindy Carpenter is proposing making the museum more accessible to those with physical disabilities. GREG LYNCH/2015

With Butler County poised to reopen the newly renovated Sailors Soldiers and Pioneers Monument, Commissioner Cindy Carpenter wants to see if the downtown Hamilton icon can be made more accessible for those with physical disabilities.

RELATED: Restored monument to soon reopen to the public

Carpenter said with two levels of steep stairs, the museum — which houses military uniforms, war records and historic artifacts — is hard to get to.

“I think if you are going to open it to the public … I think you should make it accessible,” she said.

She said she believes there could be a way to provide access on the southern side of the 100-foot tall, 40-foot square monument near the historic log cabin.

Butler County commissioners got their first glimpse at 2018 Community Development Block Grant projects this week, and it includes $30,000 to replace lighting on the outside of the 112-year-old structure.

The monument restoration project has been 2½ years in the making after the Hamilton Community Foundation challenged Butler County commissioners to match a $250,000 grant they pledged for repairs.

Community Development Manager Desmond Maaytah, who is looking into the accessibility issue, said there are a number of potential hurdles to overcome:

  • How many floors — there are three — would be accessible in the structure.
  • The State Historic Preservation Office must be consulted to insure as much of the historic nature of the building is preserved.
  • If federal funding is used the county must comply with the Secretary of Interior Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties.
  • Compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, as well as the state commercial building code

MORE: 5 things to know about the Billy Yank monument that stands over Hamilton

The bulk of the restoration project, that cost just shy of $500,000, was to waterproof the structure, repair rotting limestone and it ended up needing a new copper roof for “Billy Yank” to stand on.

The county has another agreement with community foundation to pay for a curator from the Butler County Historical Society to man the museum beginning this summer. They will split the $24,000 annual cost to employ a curator and care for the collections in the museum. The monument will be open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Historical society Executive Director Kathy Creighton said they are still on track to reopen an empty museum — it’s original state when it opened in 1906 — Memorial Day weekend, while they continue refurbishing the exhibits.

As for accessibility, she said she needs to reserve her thoughts until she sees what plans might develop.

“We want to include everyone we can…,” she said. “You have to look at the feasibility as to where you would do it.”

About the Author