Old wooden wheels

“These items are important to the culture and story of Peoria. We want to make sure they are protected and available for residents to enjoy.”

A city lease of buildings occupied by the Peoria Arizona Historical Society (PAHS) was terminated on July 23. Given this development, the city will be taking steps to ensure historic items within the facility are properly maintained.

In the last several months, the city repeatedly requested but failed to receive a plan from PAHS for managing and removing the historic items. As a result, the city retained the services of a museum expert.

“The preservation of Peoria’s rich history is our primary concern,” City Manager Jeff Tyne said. “These items are important to the culture and story of Peoria. We want to make sure they are protected and available for residents to enjoy.”

As the tenant, PAHS is responsible for removal of all contents upon the lease termination. The city will remove and store all the contents at the cost of PAHS if they fail to vacate the premises in a timely manner.

The city of Peoria retained a museum expert with experience in small museums and certified collections to ensure the protection of all the historic items. The expert will work to identify, catalogue, wrap and package the Peoria artifacts for storage in an appropriate environment until the dispute is resolved and a PAHS governing board is legally established.

PAHS has been experiencing internal issues since 2017, rejecting offers from the city to facilitate a resolution.

More than two years later, the museum remains closed and the city buildings lie dormant. Those buildings include the Peoria Central School Museum, Office Workshop, Business and Government Museum, Agricultural Museum, and the Peoria Jail House in Old Town Peoria.

In January 2018, PAHS members filed suit in the superior court against each other regarding who is the rightful board. In January, the city notified PAHS that the lease will terminate in 180 days and they must move out of the five buildings. In June, a judge denied pre-trial motions from both sides to request partial summary judgments, leaving the conflict unresolved.