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Murray Journal

For the Murray Museum, a place to call home

Sep 09, 2021 10:43AM ● By Shaun Delliskave

The Murray Mansion will soon become the home of the Murray Museum. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

It seems like a natural match, moving the repository of Murray’s history into the historic Murray Mansion. Murray City plans to move the Murray Museum from the current City Hall to the John P. Cahoon mansion (4872 S. Poplar St.); the new City Hall is being constructed next door. 

“The Cahoon family contributed so many things to the incorporation and success of Murray that it seems to be a perfect fit. It seems only natural for a building that was built in 1899, and that has been listed on the National Register to house the story of Murray,” Cultural Arts Director Lori Edmunds said.

Built by local brickmaking titan John P. Cahoon, the Victorian eclectic-styled home has six bedrooms, five bathrooms, four family rooms, four fireplaces and two kitchens. Bill and Susan Wright purchased the house in the 1980s, restored it to its early 20th-century luster, and attached a reception hall for weddings. 

“At present, our museum employees are working through the current displays to get them ready for their new home. They are storing some of the artifacts in each display so there can be rotation in the new building, which will keep the displays fresh. We will also be adding a few new areas to take the patron further into the 20th-century story of Murray’s history,” Edmunds said.

Several years ago, Mayor Ted Eyre arranged to purchase the Murray Mansion, the Murray Chapel, and the Murray Arts Centre from the Wrights. As part of the Murray City Center District, the city will spare the Murray Mansion and Chapel from the fates of their neighbors to the east, which will be demolished.

“Murray City is in the process of rehabilitating the Murray Mansion to house the Murray Museum that, at present, is inside Murray City Hall,” Edmunds said. “We have already replaced the roof and gutter on the home. We are working now on the floors. We are in the process of choosing a contractor for the windows. Although work seems to be moving slow, it is due to finding the appropriate company who will keep the historical integrity of the building.”

No ordinary contractor will do since the Murray Mansion is listed on the historic register for the Murray Downtown Historic District. 

According to Edmunds, “The biggest challenge about moving is the rehabilitation itself and finding appropriate contractors to hire to ensure we keep the historical integrity of the building. Historical construction is a highly skilled profession, no matter what requirements need to be met.”

A feasibility study was requested for the mansion. As per the study, rehabilitating the exterior of the building could exceed $1,000,000 to make the structure safe for staff and patrons. Built over a century ago, the building’s repairs include roof replacement, mortar repointing, water damage repair, and stone degradation treatment. Murray City Facilities and Parks Departments will be able to handle some of this construction. The second phase will concentrate on the inside of the building.

The reception hall added to the home in the 1980s will be retrofitted to meet ADA requirements. All the historical displays will be set up in that part of the building, while the actual home itself will show the real life of the Cahoon family. 

The museum currently displays artifacts from different eras in Murray, from Native American settlements to Mormon pioneers to its industrial center.  

“The most exciting thing about the new location is that it will be in a beautiful, rehabbed historic home. We will be able to tell the story of the Cahoon family and how they contributed to the Murray story. It will also be next door to the new City Hall and will serve as a gathering place for our residents,” Edmunds said.