Construction of a new barrack building for exhibits and offices and the Mineta Simpson Institute at the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center are progressing nicely, although weather has led to some …
Construction of a new barrack building for exhibits and offices and the Mineta Simpson Institute at the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center are progressing nicely, although weather has led to some delays.
Cally Steussy, the center’s director of interpretation and preservation, said the schedule is for the buildings to be completed in September, weather dependent, as she watched trusses being installed on a section of the new barracks over where offices will be.
The area will include more office space and more exhibit space, she said, which will allow the center to better store some items and be better prepared to except more artifacts. Some exhibits will be upgraded to have moveable shelves as well.
“We do have people contact us about artifacts they’ve found from the camp,” she said. “This is a way for us to better respond to requests like that.”
She said the construction process shares striking similarities to the building of the camp buildings in 1942, when construction crews actually competed to see who could build a barracks the quickest.
While the area for exhibits and offices has been deemed the “fourth barracks” by staff, Steussy said the Mineta-Simpson Institute, which will include conference space, an industrial kitchen and exhibits to the institute’s two namesakes, was designed to resemble a mess hall, which along with many barracks and a laundry facility formed one of the dozens of blocks spread across a square mile of land. The new institute will also house a recording studio for staff to do interviews, podcasts and videos.
The center is also eying more of that land the camp was on, Steussy said, as a roughly 10-year process to purchase the land where the hospital chimney and deteriorating barracks stand from federal agencies looks like it could happen sometime relatively soon.
“Work desperately needs to be done on those buildings up there,” she said.
Center staff are also anxious to continue work on stabilizing a root cellar used during the camp’s operation and plan to eventually put an exhibit within the cellar.