April 2024 Progress Update

We’re only halfway through April, and already this month has provided a lot of excitement! First and foremost, we are incredibly proud to announce that LancasterHistory has been awarded a significant grant of $499,956 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The NEH announced on April 16 that it awarded $26.3 Million to 238 Humanities-related projects nationwide in its current funding cycle, one of which went to LancasterHistory. The grant was one of the six largest grants awarded nationwide and will be used for the Thaddeus Stevens & Lydia Hamilton Smith Center for History and Democracy to install permanent exhibitions and provide funding for a museum educator position for the Center. We are honored and thrilled to receive such a tremendous affirmation of support.

On April 5, almost two and a half years of hard work, our partners at Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA) put the final touches on the exhibition designs for the 25,000 square feet of museum galleries the Center will hold. In the weeks ahead, the LancasterHistory team will review RAA’s designs and add final artifact and image selections to the graphic design process so that by mid-summer, we can send a completed package off to an exhibition fabricator who will begin making the vision a reality.

Image of two brick buildings with construction materials outside.
The exterior of the Stevens & Smith Center, facing S. Queen Street, as of March 26, 2024.

Also this month, Benchmark Construction wrapped up their work doing some preliminary site stabilization—taking on the mundane but important tasks of reinforcing walls, excavating cellar floors, and sealing off exterior basement walls against moisture. The fun work begins next month, and we’re delighted to invite you to join us for the Stevens & Smith Center Ceremonial Groundbreaking on Monday, May 13! Join us from 9am for coffee and pastries, remarks from state and local delegates at 9:30am, and tours of the future museum site from 10:00-11:30am. We’ll have design renderings on hand to share the latest vision of the Stevens & Smith Center with you!

Behind the scenes, we’ve been working hard to ensure we’re raising the funds we need to meet the Stevens & Smith Center fundraising goal. As of Mr. Stevens’ birthday (April 4), we were 74% of the way to our capital campaign goal of $19 Million and 23% of the way to our endowment goal to help provide a sustainable future for the Center. We look forward to sharing more about the campaign and our progress in the months ahead, and hope you will consider joining the movement to bring the Stevens & Smith Center to our community and our nation!

For more information, we have a brand-new website to share with you, filled with information about the future Thaddeus Stevens & Lydia Hamilton Smith Center for History and Democracy. We’ll be keeping it updated as plans continue to unfold, and you can find all the latest and greatest news at stevensandsmithcenter.org.

Written by Robin Sarratt, Vice President, for the April 2024 Issue of Bookmarks.