Since 2005, the city-owned Mallory-Neely House, a stately Victorian mansion, and the smaller Magevney House have been shuttered from the public due to a lack of funding. But if all goes as planned, the two historic properties in downtown's Victorian Village may soon reopen for tours.
Last month, the Pink Palace Family of Museums advertised a position for a manager of historic properties for the Mallory-Neely and Magevney houses. According to Wesley Creel, administrator of programs for the Pink Palace Family of Museums, hiring a manager is the first step in reopening the museum homes to the public.
"I'm hesitant to put a timeline on the houses reopening until I have the position filled," Creel said. "Sometimes you don't find the right person and then you have to start all over again. I would hate to have that happen, but I'm careful about finalizing plans until we have the right person on board."
The city closed both homes during a round of city budget cuts in 2005. Before their closure, the houses were two of three public museum homes in Victorian Village, a neighborhood of three- and four-story mansions that once housed the city's wealthiest residents.
Currently, only the Woodruff-Fontaine House, located next door to the Mallory-Neely House and funded by a private organization, is open to the public.
The 25-room Mallory-Neely House was constructed in 1852 and features stenciled, hand-painted ceilings and original furnishings from the 1890s. The Magevney House, a modest clapboard cottage, was built in the 1830s and once housed Irish immigrant Eugene Magevney.
"Currently, we're still spending limited funds to preserve the interiors, as well as the exteriors," Creel said. "We keep the temperature humidity controls on, and there are security issues that are attended to."
But the roofs and windows of the homes have fallen into disrepair. Creel said the city is budgeting $300,000 in the next fiscal year to make needed improvements to the houses.
Scott Blake, executive director of Victorian Village, Inc., couldn't be more pleased: "We're really excited that the city has decided to reopen these homes, because they're critical to our heritage tourism development. We have to have enough activities in the area to attract tourists," he said. "We're looking forward to helping them out in any way we can."