Automotive museum taking shape in Canal Winchester

By Linda Dillman

Staff Writer

What do fast cars, transportation memorabilia and shaving mugs have in common? A new home in downtown Canal Winchester.

Work is progressing on the $1.5 million Bob McDorman Automotive Museum honoring the Corvette and including space for the National Barber Museum, which is now housed on the second floor of a building at 2 S. High St.

The museum is located on East Waterloo Street on the former lumberyard site.

According to Canal Winchester Development Director Lucas Haire, construction is underway on the building’s mechanical systems, including electric, plumbing, HVAC. Framing is complete and everything appears on schedule. Storm water structures and parking lot drainage were installed, with completion of the parking area delayed due to weather.

“As far as I know completion is scheduled for March, but this will be dependent on weather for completing the exterior items,” said Haire.

Haire said the city worked with McDorman to transfer a city-owned lot adjacent to the community center to allow construction of the building.

“In exchange for transferring this land, Mr. McDorman agreed to allow a public parking easement on all 28 parking spaces to the rear of the building,” said Haire.

The arrangement creates additional parking for the community center and businesses in downtown Canal Winchester. The city is also granting a 15-year, 100 percent property tax abatement on the value of building improvements.

“We will also be striping parking spaces on East Waterloo Street from High Street to Trine Street,” said Haire. “This will allow for more efficient use of the on-street parking spaces, and will help out-of-town visitors realize on street parking is allowed in this area.”

Haire said a new driveway will connect the existing public parking lot behind the community center to East Waterloo Street between the museum and the dentist office. Because of the new connection, the existing parking lot will be reconfigured with new striping. The city is repaving the lot as part of its 2014 street program, adding a small portion of pavement and redesigning the layout to allow an additional eight to 10 parking spaces.

“We will also be adding new signs, similar to the new historic district signs, that will direct out-of-town visitors to these public parking lots,” said Haire. “These signs will replace existing signs that are in poor condition on High Street and Columbus Street, and will be new on East Waterloo Street.”

National Barber Museum move

Canal Winchester Area Historical Society Director Mike Ippoliti said the barber museum is looking forward to securing a new home for its collection. However, while McDorman is providing space within his complex for the museum, Ippoliti said architects budget the cost to construct walls, office space, mechanical systems, lighting and fixtures for the barber museum’s portion of the building at $220,000.

“We’re trying to raise the money to get in there,” said Ippoliti, “so we can look like a museum and not a garage sale. We don’t want to move in half way. We want to raise enough money for the essentials, such as flooring and lighting and we need to build a loft for office space. I’m putting together a pitch to approach companies on the national level for donations. We’d have enough money if I could get just $1 from each of the 385,000 licensed barbers across the nation. There are 9,500 licensed barbers in Ohio alone. The problem right now is getting the word out to everyone.”

Ippoliti said that AARP worker Ron Koontz, an architectural engineer and data specialist providing temporary service to the barber museum, created an interior design and formulated a numbering system to move artifacts to their final location.

Economic impact on the city

Haire foresees the Bob McDorman Automotive Museum and National Barber Museum drawing visitors not aware of what Canal Winchester has to offer to the community and downtown.

“These visitors will likely shop at businesses in the downtown area and maybe have lunch or dinner in one of the downtown restaurants,” Haire said. “The museum will provide great exposure to the businesses that are already here and hopefully lead to others looking to invest in the area because of the increased activity from museum patrons.”

Haire called McDorman a great champion of Canal Winchester who has contributed to the growth and the success of the community for 50 years. Haire feels the automotive museum and McDorman’s contribution of space to the barber museum will provide a community amenity adding to the success of the city for years to come.

“It will bring great exposure to Canal Winchester and will hopefully lead to a positive impression on visitors so they will want to return and spend time and money in the community,” said Haire. “We are grateful for Mr. McDorman’s investment in the community in cleaning up a group of buildings that had been an eyesore for years. The city was happy to assist Mr. McDorman in making his dream come true of sharing his love of cars in his hometown of Canal Winchester.”

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