By Bret McKeand
Visitors to Oakmont Recreation Center and North Golf Course may have noticed a new addition to the neighborhood pop up in the backyard of one of the first homes ever built in Sun City.
The outer shell of a new building at the Del Webb Sun Cities Museum, 10801 W. Oakmont Drive, is nearly complete and workers will soon turn their attention to finishing the inside. The museum, owned by the Sun Cities Area Historical Society, is located in one of the first five model homes constructed in Sun City.
The original building was unveiled when the new community opened Jan. 1, 1960.
The Sun Cities Area Historical Society purchased the property 30 years ago and 10 years ago turned it into the Del Webb Sun Cities Museum.
The house, which has remained in pretty much the same condition as it was when it first opened to the public in 1960, is undergoing a major transformation.
The historical society earlier this year broke ground on a project that will expand the facility to provide additional space for exhibits and an enlarged meeting room. The expansion, which involves construction of an entirely new building behind the current museum, is made possible by an $80,000 grant donated by the Del E. Webb Foundation.
The block walls were constructed, and sidewalks leading to the new building were installed. Foam insulation was sprayed at the end of June and trusses are expected to be erected this month and the roof completed by the end of July. Desert Legacy Construction Company began construction in April.
A committee was created to select internal furnishings, including flooring, cabinets, lighting and more.
The entire project is expected to be completed by the end of August.
A members/donors grand opening is slated for Friday, Nov. 1 followed by a week of grand opening activities for the general public.
The current museum consists of 1,675 square feet, not counting a carport and back porch. The approximately 700-square-foot new building will replace the back porch and encompass much of the current back yard. A walkway will connect the new building to the existing facility.
Building construction is expected to cost $115,000. The museum launched a fundraising campaign to cover added costs of interior design, as well as new exhibits, supplies and physical upgrades to the existing building. The museum’s Board of Trustees is hoping to generate $100,000 during the 2019 fund campaign.
“The museum plays an important role in promoting the history of the Sun Cities, and we’re confident our community will step up to generously support our efforts,” said Don Tuffs, SCAHS Board of Trustees president. “While donations have been coming in, we’re still about $25,000 short to pay for the construction of the building, flooring, etc.”
The Sun Cities Area Historical Society was organized in 1986 as part of the 25th anniversary of Sun City. Its mission is to preserve, protect and promote the history of Sun City and Sun City West.
The organization purchased the building in 1989. The home, now the Del Webb Sun Cities Museum and Research Center, was restored to its original condition and features exhibits and artifacts showcasing the history of the Sun Cities.
The nonprofit organization is directed by a volunteer Board of Trustees and operated by volunteer docents and guides. Operating funds are derived primarily by membership dues, donations and fundraising activities.
The museum is closed during the summer and will reopen to the public in September. Admission is free.
“We would like to encourage everyone to be a part of history and support your Del Webb Sun Cities Museum.,” said Mr. Tuffs.
Visit delwebbsuncitiesmuseum.org. Call 623-974-2568 to contribute to the museum or to learn more about becoming a museum sponsor.
Editor’s Note: It is the Independent’s policy to declare to our readers any potential conflicts of interest. The author is the senior executive editor for the Independent, but also past president and member of the SCAHS Board of Trustees.