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Park City Museum suffers extensive water damage

Artifacts saved after hot-water heater housing cracks

The Park City Museum suffered water damage this week after the housing around a hot-water heater cracked. Tubes used in the cleaning snaked through part of the building on Thursday. No artifacts were damaged, a museum official says.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

The housing around a hot-water heater at the Park City Museum cracked early on Tuesday morning, a museum official said, allowing water to escape and causing damage on two floors as well as the underground space where the popular onetime jail is located.

It is an ill-timed issue for the museum as large holiday crowds descended on Main Street. The museum is a key cultural attraction along the shopping, dining and entertainment strip that tells the history of Park City’s founding as a silver-mining camp, eventual descent into economic ruin and subsequent re-emergence as a renowned mountain resort.

Most of the museum remains open, but sections that suffered damage are expected to be closed for an extended period. Sandra Morrison, the executive director, said she received a call at 7:45 a.m. on Tuesday from the Park City Fire District informing her that an alarm had been triggered. A Fire District crew shut off water to the building.

“It was the full pressure of the water pipe . . . The water was just free to flow,” Morrison said, adding that it was “basically raining from the ceiling down.”

The building is under the ownership of City Hall with the museum holding a long-term lease. Morrison said a City Hall maintenance crew discovered the cracked housing around the hot-water heater. She said the water exited the appliance through the crack, seeped through the floor onto the level below and then seeped through the floor on that level. It eventually leaked into the jail space.

A disaster-cleanup crew was at the museum on Thursday addressing the water damage. Fans were positioned to hasten the drying process, floor mats were put down and tubes used in the cleaning snaked through parts of the museum.

Morrison said no artifacts were damaged. A traveling exhibit of aprons would have been damaged had the crack occurred a week earlier, she said. Firefighters assisted in covering antique pieces in the jail that were on exhibit, including a historic flag of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and memorabilia from mining-era unions that operated in Park City.

Morrison said one of the jail cells and the Tozer Gallery, which is used for traveling exhibits, are closed as a result of the damage. She said the closures could possibly last a month. There is not currently a special exhibit on display in the Tozer Gallery. The next one, an examination of the Prohibition era, is not scheduled to debut until April. The rest of the museum remains open.

Morrison said there is damage to sheetrock, paint, wood flooring and historic plaster in the jail area. She said museum officials and the cleanup crew will not have a detailed understanding of the damage until the water is dried. She said it was not immediately clear what sort of repairs will be required. A dollar estimate of the damage was not known by the end of the workweek.

The Fire District responded to the initial report with three giant vacuum packs that are designed to remove water from a scene. Bob Zanetti, the assistant chief of the Fire District, said agency crews use the vacuums up to 15 times annually. He said up to eight firefighters were dispatched to the museum.

“We were lucky to get on it quick and early,” Zanetti said.


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