The City of Nelson has put its former museum building at 402 Anderson St. up for sale for an asking price of $639,000. The city will also consider five year leases.
The building was completed in 1973 and housed the city’s historical artifacts until 2006, when they were moved to the current location at Touchstones Nelson on Vernon Street.
Funded by federal and provincial grants and constructed partially with volunteer labour, the building was a project to celebrate B.C.’s 110th birthday in 1971.
Previously, Nelson’s museum collections were housed in a smaller location on Lake Street.
The Anderson Street museum began full time operation in 1984 when the archivist and curator Shawn Lamb was hired as project director. She became the full-time director in 1997.
In 2019, Nicole Tremblay curated a Touchstones exhibit about the the 402 Anderson St. museum.
“The museum building at 402 Anderson at times left much to be desired for lighting, space, warmth and air quality, but all of its flaws were workable with Shawn at the helm,” Tremblay wrote in a book that accompanied her exhibit.
Typically museums in those days collected items simply because they were old and donated by locals. Tremblay describes the Anderson Street museum as jam-packed with “a maze of interesting items and information” with every square inch used as exhibit or storage space.
The building also housed the Mildred Erb Gallery, which Tremblay describes as the one room in the building that had a single purpose, and the Ladybird, a historic speedboat that was restored on the premises.
On May 4, 2003, the MV Amabilis II, one of the last surviving work boats of Kootenay Lake, which was being restored outside the museum building, was destroyed by fire. The blaze also burned part of the museum roof and caused significant smoke damage to the collections. Even though the building and artifacts were cleaned and restored, this was the impetus to look for a new location for a museum, archives and art gallery, and the current Touchstones location opened in 2006.
Many of the artifacts remained in storage at 402 Anderson St. until 2018, when they were moved to a new home adjacent to Touchstones beneath the post office.