BELEN — Less than two weeks before the Belen Harvey House Museum was to fully reopen to visitors, last week’s heavy rainstorm caused damage to its roof, sending water through the interior ceiling.

Museum Coordinator Frances Zeller said while there is some ceiling damage to the main room of the museum, she is hopeful it will be patched up before the annual Summer Picnic and Sale this weekend.

The event, which will be held from noon to 4 p.m., Saturday, July 17, will include free food, a book sale, a weaving and spinning demonstration and tours of the Harvey House.

While the storm caused some damage to the historic building last week, a $120,000 capital outlay appropriation from the Legislature is helping replace the roof on the portico and perimeter of the building.

“That’s where we have the most wood rot and could actually see the sky,” Zeller said. “That’s the part that needed immediate attention. It was the first thing visitors saw and I think they felt sorry for us.”

The work on the portico and perimeter has yet to be completed by National Roofing Co. in Albuquerque, Zeller said, and they are planning for phase two of the project that would include the pitched tile portion of the building’s roof.

“That’s where this water (leaked) from,” Zeller said while sitting in the main room of the museum, “and this is where it’s most concentrated. We got a little water upstairs as well.”

The museum’s basement did take on some water last week, but the French drainage system was able to clear the water.

“We have never gotten in the basement in the six years I’ve worked here,” Zeller said.

The museum coordinator said the roof has been worked on in the past, but every monsoon season has caused leaking.

“I would like to thank all the city councilors and the legislators for helping with this project,” Zeller said. “We had a nice event a couple of years ago when they could see what needed to be done.

“It’s nice to see all this work and have it actually happen,” she added. “I’ve learned a lot from this.”

The museum is taking donations and selling tote bags to raise money to repair the ceiling. To donate, visit harveyhousemuseum.org.

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Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin, as well as the executive editor of El Defensor Chieftain, the News-Bulletin's sister paper in Socorro.
Clara is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.