SALEM - The Salem branch of the Butler Institute of American Art remains closed indefinitely pending satisfactory repairs to the damaged building next door.
"We're in a holding pattern," Salem Community Foundation President John Tonti said Thursday.
The museum, which receives SCF financial support for operations and exhibitions, first opened in 1991 with much fanfare. Tonti said part of the mission behind it was bringing people to downtown Salem in hopes of boosting tourism.
Salem was the hometown of Charles Burchfield, an American painter known for his watercolor scenes, many based on what he saw from the Fourth Street home where he grew up. His boyhood home has been turned into a museum.
The Butler museum was forced to shut down in June 2008 due to some major leaks in the roof and other damage caused by falling bricks from the TanFastic building next door. A lawsuit was filed in 2009 against Tim and Debbie Smith, who owned the building, and was later settled in 2010.
The insurer for the Butler museum paid a claim of $56,115 for the $57,115 in damages. A $1,000 deductible was paid by the museum.
When the repairs were finished, the museum reopened, but Tonti said it was only for a short time. More damage occurred and the city ordered the TanFastic building shut down. The city filed a lawsuit against the owners to force the repairs and in February, the two sides reached an agreement in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court giving them six months to get the building fixed.
Tonti said he was recently on the roof of the Butler building and it didn't appear that repairs had begun on the adjoining building owned by the Smiths.
"Nothing that I can tell has been done," Tonti said.
He said they had hoped to have a grand re-opening of the museum in January because originally something was supposed to have been done to the building next door by November 2011,
"It's just a terrible thing - we have to try to deal with it," he said.
The TanFastic building will have to be inspected by the city fire department before reopening. Even if the repairs are done, Tonti said there may be a period of time before the museum will reopen. More repairs will have to be done there and they don't want to do anything until they know the other building is okay.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org