Providence Children's Museum Pays Off Mortgage
Providence Children’s Museum reaches a major milestone this month: making the final payment on its building mortgage. “While the news is full of foreclosures, unpayable debt and failing businesses, the Museum is bucking the trend,” said Board President Carol A. Peterson. “We’re debt-free and financially stable.” The Museum will mark this important achievement with a mortgage-burning party on Tuesday, April 21.
The Children’s Museum purchased its property – a former factory and surrounding land in Providence’s Jewelry District – in 1994. Having outgrown its original home, a rented historic house in Pawtucket, the Museum needed more space to serve its ever-increasing audience. “When we reached annual visitation of 50,000, we had lines that stretched a block down the sidewalk,” recalled Executive Director Janice O’Donnell. “As beautiful as that Victorian was, we didn’t own it, we couldn’t make it bigger or more accessible. We certainly couldn’t have a water play area with those historic parquet floors!”
The Museum’s Board established criteria to guide its search for a new site, including proximity to low-income neighborhoods, easy access from the highways, close to universities and other cultural attractions and in a “neutral” area to ensure the location would be welcoming to all. “We looked at dozens of possible sites and did serious studies on several of them before finding the perfect home,” O’Donnell said.
With lead gifts from generous supporters, help from the City
of Providence and a mortgage with the previous owner, the Museum
entered into a purchase agreement for the property and launched a $3
million capital campaign to fund the move, building renovations and
8,000 square feet of brand new hands-on exhibits. By the fall of
1997, the campaign had surpassed its goal and the new Museum opened to