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Hayden Museum getting a new look

Luki Te'etai Tuitasi and the crew from Public Works are preparing the area in front of the Jean P. Hayden Museum, for the construction of a new 2-story structure that will provide more storage, office and display space for the Jean P. Hayden Museum. See story for details.  [photo: Blue Chen-Fruean]

The Jean P. Hayden Museum will be getting a much-needed facelift.

While the original building will remain intact, a new extension that will feature a two-story structure will be built on the side where the old restrooms, a carving area, and storage rooms were housed many years ago.

Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga is scheduled to meet this morning with Museum officials and board members to discuss the plans in detail.

Over the past week, crew members from the Department of Public Works have been busy leveling the area and prepping it for the planned extension.

Responding to Samoa News inquiries yesterday, DPW's special assistant to the director, Luki Te'etai Tuitasi confirmed that Public Works is being tasked with clearing out the area, as well as constructing the new building, which will add more office, storage, and display space for the museum.

Tuitasi, who also heads the Maintenance and Operations (M&O) Division at Public Works, said their office is drawing up a design that will be submitted to the governor for approval and once the green light is given, work will commence.

When contacted for comments yesterday, Historic Preservation Officer David Herdrich explained that the original museum building will remain untouched, as it is a historic site, meaning the building is protected under federal law and also under the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1990.

"Basically, the areas being torn down are not the historic part of the museum and there are no plans to tear down that particular section, although interior renovations can be done," Herdrich said, adding that because the museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, emphasis is placed on maintaining the historic character of the building's exterior.

Before it was used as a museum, the building served as the commissary for the US Naval Administration — on the front end — while the back section was used as a motor pool shop for vehicle repairs. It was also used as a post office in the 1960s.

According to Herdrich, the post office was relocated to where it is today, across the street at the Lumana'i Building, during the early 1970s and that's when the building was used as a museum, tying the front and back sections of the structure together.

The American Samoa Historic Preservation Office, which is under the umbrella of the Governor's Office, plays a huge role in maintaining the museum. Herdrich, the head of ASHPO, explained that if the museum needs major renovations, Historic Preservation funds — if available — could be spent to carry out the work. If not, funding can be sought from other Historic Preservation grants.

ASHPO's last major restoration project for the museum was carried out about a decade ago, when the agency restored all the windows for the building. "At the time, all the windows were boarded up and the structure looked abandoned," Herdrich said, adding that some interior work was also carried out.

In addition to the museum project, Public Works’ M&O Division recently completed a major clean-up in Fagatogo, clearing out all the debris that was left behind by a fire that destroyed an old building that served as a video store behind ASTCA.

Trash left over from the fire was swept into a nearby waterway and eventually clogged a river-way that overflows during heavy rains and floods the area around the District Court and High Court buildings.

According to Tuitasi, although the property that burned down was privately owned, Public Works stepped in to carry out clean-up as part of the island-wide Zika outreach program.