NewsCovering Kern County


Bakersfield museum works through water damage, generosity from the public pushes them forward

Businesses continue to rebuild after fire
Posted at 10:02 PM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-18 11:56:12-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Downtown businesses continue to rebuild after a fire last December which damaged several buildings including one local museum. Now months later the cleanup continues for the Buena Vista History Museum and the process has been anything but easy.

Just a reminder that Pallets for Days and Tina Marie's Cafe were destroyed by that December fire, the neighboring businesses also had major damage, but at the Buena Vista Museum, firefighters were able to save the building, but in the process, the museum ended up with lots of water damage inside. At the time they figured about two months' work of repairs would have to be done, but now 3 months later they're realizing their work is far from over.

“Watching the other buildings burn, which was just completely gut-wrenching, all I could think of was all of the things that are irreplaceable that we do have in the museum.”

Koral Hancherick is talking about the thousands of artifacts inside the Buena Vista Museum.

“They aren't replaceable, because many of them are one of a kind and they're millions of years old," said Hancherick.

However, firefighters were able to hold the line at the museum, but saving these artifacts came with a cost after a fire next door as Hancherick showed us in December.

At the time, Hancherick thought they had two months' worth of damage repairs ahead of them but within the last 3 weeks, they ran into more issues.

“We thought we were in good shape, and we had the painter come out to start that work and as he got up to the upper walls, we noticed there was some stuff kind of peeling.”

Hancherick said when they ripped that vinyl wallpaper back, water started pouring out from underneath.

“Everything had to be tested for asbestos and lead, and we were good on asbestos, but the paint contains lead.”

Which means their process will be delayed.

“We can't do any sanding, refinishing, re-stripping anything like that until an abatement team comes in.”

Once that's finished, they'll be able to work on the finishing touches with a goal of reopening by mid-April, but then Hancherick says their other issue is having adequate funding to stay afloat after being closed all year due to the pandemic.

“We did have a little bit in savings we pretty much wiped that out. It was a matter of cutting back, it is like if we can turn the lights down and not use the water as much as possible. We tried to conserve where we could.”

While most of the costs for repairs will be covered by insurance, Hancherick says there were some limitations as to what could be covered, and thanks to the generosity of the public, they were able to help pay for the deductible.

If you'd like to take part in helping the museum reopen its doors, check their website here.