An almost $800,000 project to build a visitor center at the Limberlost State Historic Site in Geneva has been fully financed, thanks to the Indiana State Museum, which put up most of the money, and local donors, who raised $200,000.
"We have reached the goal. It is a tremendous accomplishment, especially considering the size of the community we have," the site's director, Randy Lehman told the Berne Tri-Weekly News, noting Geneva's population of approximately 1,200 people.
Lehman said the $795,000 project will be bid soon, with groundbreaking in the summer and completion by late winter or early spring of 2012. Construction will be overseen by the state museum and the state Department of Natural Resources, which has operated the site for many years.
Lehman said the leaders of the Indiana State Museum "were amazed. They don't receive contributions like [$200,000] very often. Everybody in Indianapolis was impressed." The large local collection was headed up by Bank of Geneva, the Limberlost Conservation Association, and The Friends of the Limberlost.
The director said the visitor center will be 43 feet by 90 feet and will have a nearby viewing area to observe birds that measures nine by 12 feet. The building will have an office for the historic site and the nature preserve staff, an exhibition area and gift shop that measures 27 by 29 feet, and a classroom for teaching students.
"It will not only function as a visitor center for Limberlost, but also as a welcome center for Adams County," Lehman said.
The state historic site is in a two-story log cabin that was built and lived in by author and naturalist Gene Stratton-Porter and her husband and is on the south side of Geneva, near US 27.
Lehman noted that the visitor center will provide greater protection for artifacts, and that the new facility will allow larger groups to enjoy the historic site, particularly during bad weather and during winter."
Lehman told the Berne newspaper, "I'm overwhelmed, overjoyed! The magnitude of this accomplishment means a great deal to me. The commitment of this community to have a welcome center is overwhelming."