Jacksonville African American History Museum Suffers Water Damage After Pipe Bursts

By Jeremy Coumbes on January 20, 2024 at 4:39pm

An area museum needs some major help after a pipe burst during the deep freeze last week.

The Jacksonville African American History Museum will remain closed until further notice after a water pipe burst on the second floor of the historic Asa Talcott House which serves as home to the museum.

Art Wilson with the museum says the museum was fine when he checked it on Tuesday, however, when one of the volunteers and a plumber went in to replace a toilet on Thursday, they discovered a large amount of water coming from the upstairs.

Wilson says some pretty extensive damage occurred to the home itself. He says the insurance adjuster has told them that at least two of the floors will need to be completely replaced in the affected area due to the amount of damage done to the wood.

Which is unfortunate because those floors are original to the home. The bathroom is going to have to be totally redone, the ceiling plaster fell out of that. Upstairs, it started in the laundry room so there wasn’t a whole lot of damage besides the floor that flooded.

Luckily it didn’t go into the children’s room or the other room where we had just put new carpet in. Two rooms and three ceilings are probably going to have to be replaced, and the kitchen flooring too. All that is going to have to be replaced because the water got up underneath the tile. So that’s what we are looking at right now.”

Wilson says the most fortunate part was that none of the exhibits suffered any damage due to the flooding. “Just minor things but things that are still important. We had children’s books and a few other things that got damaged but none of the exhibits on the walls.

The giant Harriet Tubman painting that was done by a friend of mine, we took it down and moisture was just starting to come through the brick. So it was a good thing that it didn’t just come watering out of the brick at the fireplace and damaged that painting.”

Wilson says they believe that the museum’s insurance should cover the majority of the costs, but they are still searching for a contractor to assess the extent of the damage before any work can begin.

He says they also need to be mindful of the age of the home and hope to disrupt as little of the original building as possible in the process. The home was built in 1833 with the affected addition having been built in the 1860s.

Wilson says that even though no main exhibits were damaged, and the museum does have insurance coverage, some things need to be replaced that the public could assist with.

Any kind of support that the people want to give would be great. We are still needing some bookshelves. We’re getting some shelves made for the children’s room, but we still need more shelves.

Definitely, if anyone has cultural books that children can read it would be great. The race doesn’t matter in the book, just that it’s cultural so kids can learn about other races and just everybody. Those would be nice because those were what got damaged as far as stuff that we can’t just go out and replace immediately.”

The Jacksonville African American History Museum opened in the summer of 2022 and is a non-profit organization that relies solely on donations from the public to stay in operation.

The museum is located at 859 Grove Street in Jacksonville and is open for tours starting in May each year and by appointment during the winter months.

Anyone who wishes to donate or has books to help resupply the children’s room can contact Wilson by email at jvilleaahm@gmail.com.