Northport historic buildings being moved
By WVUA 23 News Student Reporter Chaney Scott
The Northport Heritage Museum and Umbria Schoolhouse are moving to new locations.
These two historic buildings are in the Northport Community Center area, but their move is unrelated to the potential sale of that property off Lurleen Wallace Boulevard. The Friends of Historic Northport group said they originally planned this move in conjunction with the city in January to try and boost tourism while repurposing the buildings.
“Our visitors can come and learn about the history and heritage of Northport, but also learn where our businesses are located. Where they can go to eat, where they can stay, or where they can play, like parks and that sort of thing,” said Friends of Historic Northport president Chuck Gerdau.
Umbria Schoolhouse is a white one-room building directly behind the 1907 dark green house that has served as the Heritage Museum for more than 20 years. The house previously sat where a gas station is now and was donated to the city in 1997.
The schoolhouse is moving to the Shirley Place Museum Complex on Main Ave., which is also maintained by the Friends of Historic Northport. The museum is headed to 9th St. and Bridge Ave. near Courtyard Marriott. It will stay a museum but is also being converted into a welcome center.
“The city wanted to move it to a property they owned and we were in agreement with that. We also operate Shirley Place and have a 20-year lease with the city,” said Gerdau.
They maintain the properties and Gerdau said the group is looking forward to this move.
“We are excited that the museum will be moving to its new location to become a new visitor center, where our visitors can come learn about the history and heritage of Northport,” he said.
Gerdau said there is a creek underneath the current site.
“So it’s called the Byler Road Creek, or culvert. It’s underground and it’s been covered up over the years. Where the schoolhouse is used to be a swamp. If you look at old aerials, it shows a swamp. It went all the way down to the river,” said Gerdau. “They’ll need engineers to make it solid. It sold for $1.1 million, but you’re looking at purchasing a property, if it goes through, with a lot of issues.”
The schoolhouse should be moved in two weeks. Gerdau said the Heritage Museum should take a few more weeks because it is a larger building.