The Navy Yard National Historic Park and several partners – including the Constitution Museum – are preparing to welcome in state, local and federal dignitaries on Friday for an announcement about completely revamping the visitor experience at the Yard – including the possibility of rehabilitating the old Hoosac Building into a new Constitution Museum.
The National Parks and its partners are hoping that many members of the Charlestown community will be able to make it to Friday’s event, which starts at 11 a.m.
Michael Creasey, superintendent of the National Parks of Boston, said this week that they are preparing to welcome Ryan Zinke, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, and Richard Spencer, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, for the big announcement.
Creasey said Zinke will be there to announce $3 million in funding to begin planning for the renovation of the vacant Hoosac Building into a new Constitution Museum and office spaces.
“He will be announcing $3 million in funding for the NPS and our new partnership to begin to look at converting the vacant Hoosac Building into a new U.S. Constitution Museum and visitor’s center,” he said. “The Hoosac Building will also have the upper floors renovated for office space to allow for the offices of the National Parks and the Constitution Museum. Finally, after 50 years of lying fallow on the waterfront, the Hoosac Building will be ready for a new, bold look that will accompany it at Gate 1 of Constitution Road.”
Creasey said visitors would now enter the museum and at Gate 1 and take in everything that’s there, including the NPS Visitor’s Center. After that, they would proceed through security from within the building, feeding out right onto the USS Constitution ship. After that, they would be exited into the Navy Yard.
The Hoosac Building has been discussed as possibly housing the Museum, which now sits on the other side of the Yard opposite the Constitution, but in those decades of talk, no action has been taken. That is all scheduled to change on Friday.
Amidst that change will be a tremendous amount of cooperation.
In fact, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will be signed on Friday between the NPS, the U.S. Navy, and the USS Constitution Museum. The three partners will combine their efforts to be stewards of the Navy Yard in the future. They will be known simply as the Navy Yard Partnership.
“We’re going to work together to really activate this Park,” said Creasey.
That partnership will also extend to more of a unification of the NPS and the Museum. Instead of being separated across the Yard, the will potentially be united under one building and united in their efforts more than ever before.
“The Constitution Museum and the Parks will be one,” he said. “We would not work as two separate units, but collaborate on a partnership.”
The announcement is part of the unveiling of the recently-completed Navy Yard Visitor Experience Plan by Sasaki Associates. The Hoosac Building and the new partnerships are only part of a much larger plan that includes ideas and revamps all over the Yard – including a drastically different layout of the lawn area and some of the buildings.
It also coincides with the changes that have come as part of the ongoing Freedom Trail construction project on Constitution Road – which seeks to enhance the entry for visitors coming to the Yard.
Creasey said 90 percent of their visitors to the Yard, whether from Boston or beyond, come through Gate 1 – and he cited that they get more than one million visitors per year. He said have the Hoosac Building at Gate 1, along with the enhanced Freedom Trail project, brings everything together nicely.
“We would look for the Hoosac Building to be the culmination of a really great project that brings people into the Park,” he said.
The event begins on Friday, Oct. 5, at 11 a.m.