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Tenement Museum’s 97 Orchard St. in “Desperate Need of Care,” Fundraising Campaign Launched (Updated)

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97 orchard

Here’s a plea that arrived in the “in boxes” of Tenement Museum supporters yesterday. It was signed by Morris Vogel,  the Lower East Side organization’s president.

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum at 97 Orchard Street is a unique landmark. It was never home to the wealthy or celebrated. Built to house the immigrant poor, it was not built to last. Home to more than 7,000 people over 60 years and now visited by 215,000 per year, the building is in desperate need of care. We need your help to preserve it. Floors rest only on the perimeter walls; they need reinforcement to help bear the load of foot traffic. Exterior walls are weatherworn and need repointing. Front-facing brownstone lintels and rear bluestone lintels need replacement and repair. The heart of our building, a single wooden staircase, needs stabilization. Paint and wallpaper – put up by our tenants decades ago – need conservation. Help us ensure that our building continues to testify to the stories of the thousands of immigrants who lived within its walls, and to the millions of new Americans like them. Please make a gift today.

In 2014, the museum announced a multi- million dollar expansion into the upper floors of 103 Orchard St., where its visitor center is located. Construction of that project was anticipated next year.

The email from the museum, of course, raises a lot of questions.

Click here if you would like to donate to the 97 Orchard project.

UPDATE 4/27/2015 We asked the tenement Museum for more information about the fundraising appeal. Here’s what we were told by David Eng, vice president of marketing and communications.

As you know, 97 Orchard Street is a very old building that was built in 1863 and not meant to last all this time. As a result, it is always in need of ongoing preservation and strengthening and we are always in need of funding in order to make the necessary repairs and fortifications so that our visitors can continue to visit, see the building and more importantly, hear about the stories of the families who lived in the building and tell the story of American immigration. That said, it is not in danger of falling down. Unlike the landlords of the late 1800s, we have ensured that the building is up to code and safe for the visitors we see every day. The upcoming – previously announced – expansion to take place in 103 Orchard where our Visitor Center and Museum Shop are housed will help the Museum build capacity beyond the current limited number of people who can visit and help us bring the story into present day and tell the full story of American immigration to date. We are in the midst of a capital campaign – still to be completed – to help us complete this expansion.

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