The Grand Army of the Republic Museum and Library on Griscom street is looking to relocate.
From the Summer edition of the Grand Army Scout newsletter. Follow this link for the complete newsletter:
GAR Scout_summer_2019 In 1958, when the Ruan House was purchased on Griscom Street (4278 Griscom Street)grand army, I was 10 years old and living in the Frankford neighborhood not far from the Museum. I walked near the Museum on my way to the Frankford Boys Club and to Boy Scout meetings. In 1960 my brother and I saw the movie “Pretty Boy Floyd” at the Holiday Theater that now stands empty around the corner from the Museum. I used the Free Library’s Frankford Branch and attended Frankford High School.
When the Museum opened to the public in 1985, neither I nor any of my friends had ever heard of the GAR Museum. Therein lies the problem. The Museum that preserves the history of the greatest crisis that faced our nation is mostly known only to the Civil War community and few others. Look around and you will realize that the advancing years of those active in our Civil War community is a real concern. We are responsible for the preservation of the history of those who fought the battles and for those civilians who supported them. We know what they did to end slavery and preserve the Union, but do we know who will continue to run the Museum?
Our Museum is now faced with its greatest crisis. We are just holding our own with building maintenance, but the costs of keeping this old house are very high. The Museum’s neighborhood and location are driving visitors and volunteers away from our doors. We need to relocate.
Other museums are facing the same difficulties. You may have heard of the closing of the Philadelphia History Museum. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, is having problems. On the positive side the National Constitution Center has opened a permanent Civil War and Reconstruction Exhibit this year. The size of the Exhibit is the same as the GAR Museum.
We need greater support for our Museum like that received for the Museum of the American Revolution, The Barnes Foundation and the USS New Jersey.
The GAR Museum now has only ninety-seven (97) paying members which include nine (9) Board Members and five (5) additional volunteers. We cannot maintain the Museum with so few. As Churchill once said, “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.” We need to ask ourselves why and how we can get greater support. The best way, and I believe the only way, is to move the Museum to a new location that will be conveniently located and easier to maintain.
The Museum’s Board of Directors is moving forward. We will find a way to do this, but we need your help. Let us hear from you. We are exploring several locations along Roosevelt Blvd. near the Laurel Hill Cemetery and other Philadelphia locations.
Many have served the Museum and have accomplished a great deal, most notably Hugh Boyle. Hugh has set us on the right course to the future and as a Board member he will continue with us. I have been asked to assume his role and I am thankful for the opportunity. I will do my best to carry on, with the few, these happy few, we band of volunteers. For those today that give their time with me, shall be my brothers and sisters.