A place for old iron: HCEA advances National Construction Equipment Museum plan

Marcia Gruver Doyle Pix
A rendering of the National Construction Equipment Museum.A rendering of the National Construction Equipment Museum.

Long out of space at its cramped 7,000-square-foot headquarters, the Historical Construction Equipment Association launched a new campaign this month to fund the 20,000-square-foot National Construction Equipment Museum. The goal: to have a grand opening of the $1.5 million building in September, 2016, during the group’s annual convention.

Plans for the museum have shifted, says Thomas Berry, HCEA archivist. “We previously wanted to add on to our existing building, but now we have a whole new approach.” HCEA’s present building at the group’s headquarters in Bowling Green, Ohio, will be converted to a storage facility, and a new building will take center stage as the museum.

“We’ve basically been the victim of success,” says Don Frantz, an HCEA national director. “For example, one of our members restored a Koehring paver, and we’re going to have to take machines out of our present building to make room for it.” Several other machines are also sitting outside.

The new facility will include:

  • A machinery hall with a clear span vaulted ceiling to allow cranes and shovels to be displayed with booms raised.
  • A visitor’s center, including a merchandise store and an area for meetings and special displays.
  • A 1,200-square-foot education center that will include interactive displays.
  • A 1,200-square-foot archives annex, offering climate controlled storage for seldom-accessed material.

Working under David Munson, its director of development, HCEA began the 375 Club campaign this month, directed to its approximately 4,000 members with this logic: If each member donates $375, funding for the building is assured.  “There are national museums for cars, trains and trucks, but not for the equipment that built this nation,” Frantz says. “It’s time.”

Donations have already started; others are doing in-kind efforts. For example, HCEA member Phil Rudolph, vice president of business development with general contractor Rudolph/Libbe , Walbridge, Ohio, donated the design of the steel building, Frantz says. Another critical donation came closer to home: Frantz’s son Vincent put his company’s skills to work to create the group’s new video promoting the museum (see below).