Construction is a go at a local museum’s future home.
The historic Leigh Street Armory in Jackson Ward is being transformed into the new Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia. Work on the property officially kicked off Tuesday.
The museum hired developer The M Cos. and Emerge Construction Group for the project that is expected to take about 11 months.
The work includes stabilizing and modernizing the nearly 120-year-old building, restoring original windows, reducing lead and asbestos hazards, plastering and painting walls, and expanding the structure several thousand square feet.
Stacy Burrs, chief executive of the museum, said the project cost will total about $13 million – $8 million for construction and the rest for an endowment and operational costs. He declined to say how much the organization has raised so far.
Burrs said it is “an amazing sensation” to get construction going after months of delays for design and permits.
“The old saying is you measure twice and cut once, and we’ve been doing that,” he said.
Mike Hopkins with The M Cos. said the firm will hire 70 to 90 people over the course of construction.
Built in 1895, the armory was home to the First Battalion Virginia Volunteers Infantry, Richmond’s first African American regiment, according to the National Park Service. The structure was later used as a school, as temporary housing and a recreation hall for African American troops during World War II, and as a school again until the 1950s.
It sits at 122 W. Leigh St. at the corner of Leigh and St. Peter streets.
The Black History Museum isn’t the only local museum with big plans for the year. Several others have renovation or construction projects in the works. Those projects, along with the Black History Museum’s work on the armory, total about $80 million.