By Aaron Isaacs, HRA editor
Covering large museums is a challenge. There’s so much going on, with incremental progress on so many long-term projects that it’s hard to summarize. Seashore Trolley Museum is a good example–but they publish an excellent annual report. The one for 2017 just came out, so here’s a recap. Lots going on.
Seashore’s membership is known for its high level of donations. In 2017 $575,000 was donated by 448 individuals and organizations, almost half of total revenues and more than came from admissions. In 2017, 178 new individual and 35 new business members joined the museum. There are now 60 business members, the fruit of a concerted campaign over the last few years to recruit them.
Thanks to bequests in 2015-2018 totaling $1.2 million from just four members, the endowment fund is able to provide significant interest income for museum projects.
There were two unusual revenue sources. Lumbering on museum-owned property brought in $40,000. A private party paid the museum to build a replica of the City of Manchester (Briggs 1898), an open-platformed single-truck parlor streetcar with ornate ironwork and a plush interior that is part of the museum’s collection. It was completed in 2017.
Seashore has many more cars than can be stored under cover, and the existing barns are old and largely open on the sides. To address this, the museum has started a major program to rebuild, expand and enclose its barns. Fairview barn has been enclosed and expanded on one side, creating storage for 14 cars. Phase 2, lengthening the building, has begun and will cover another 10 cars. Total cost is $680,000. Also underway, putting doors on the Shaw barn for the first time. In 2017, Town House Shop received a new roof.
Some years ago Seashore purchased a large house near the museum entrance and rented it out. It will now be converted into the museum library, replacing a much smaller building that was not in good condition.
There are 11 cars in the Town House Shop, recently renamed in honor of Donald Curry, who recently retired but continues to volunteer. The dean of streetcar restorationists, Curry has worked at Seashore since 1953.
Restorations in progress include:
Portland-Lewiston interurban #14 Narcissus (Laconia 1912)
A major restoration of a car body that had been used as a summer cottage, but an appropriate set of trucks has been acquired. The project is currently funded by a $40,000 challenge grant from the 20th Century Electric Railway Foundation that has been matched by museum members.
Boston Elevated center entrance car #6131 (Kuhlman 1919)
Lexington & Boston box motor #41 (Stephenson 1901)