Museums See Rosy Future in Alameda

The glorious architectural details inside the Alameda Carnegie Library will be available to the public once more if the Pacific Pinball Museum’s plan comes to fruition. Photo by Michael Schiess

Five museums call Alameda home: the Alameda Museum, 2324 Alameda Ave.; the Meyers House and Gardens, 2021 Alameda Ave.; the Naval Air Museum, 2151 Ferry Point; the USS Hornet Museum, 707 W. Hornet Ave.; and the Pacific Pinball Museum, 1510 Webster St.

If the California Historical Radio Society (CHRS) gets its wish it will soon add the Bay Area Radio Museum and Hall of Fame to this list. CHRS is currently reaching out beyond its 400 members to help raise cash to purchase a building in Alameda to house its collections.

The society is hoping to include the former home of Children’s Learning Center at 2152 Central Ave. in its portfolio. If successful Alameda will be home to the museum and hall of fame currently housed at the former KRE radio station headquarters at 601 Ashby Ave. in Berkeley

According to The Daily Californian, CHRS signed a 10-year contract in 2003 with then-owner Inner Cities Broadcasting Corporation (ICBC) to take over rent-free and restore the KRE building. In 2011 ICBC went bankrupt and sold KRE’s broadcast headquarters to Ymf Media, California, LLC. On Dec 6, 2013, Ymf sold the building to Pham Radio Communications. Just over three weeks later, on Dec. 31, 2013, CHRS’s agreement expired and the new landlords have asked the radio buffs to find a new home.

"We are currently in escrow for the purchase of 2152 Central Ave.," CHRS said in a release soliciting donations. "We are seeking public and private donations to complete our fundraising for the building’s purchase and to begin improvements. CHRS has tentatively named the Central Avenue building "Radio Central." However, the donor who can afford to pitch in $500,000 will be given naming rights to CHRS’s new home.

According to its website CHRS has raised $598,200 of the $1.16 million it needs by April 14, the date the building is scheduled to close escrow. Anyone interested in contributing to the society’s effort to purchase the building can do so on its website at www.california
historicalradio.com.

Each museum in Alameda has its own needs and depends on the generosity of Island City residents. Like CHRS, each needs the support of new members, donors and sponsors. The Alameda Museum (www.alamedamusuem.org) has rent and bills to pay. The USS Hornet (www.USSHornet.org) and Naval Air Museum (www.alameda navalairmuseum.org are both need members, sponsors and donors.

The 100-plus-year-old Meyers House and Garden (www.alameda musuem.org/meyers-house-and-garden) and the Pacific Pinball Museum (www.pacificpinball.org) are special cases. The Meyers House and Garden is in the midst of a much-needed and very expensive facelift. The pinball museum needs to raise some $3.5 million in the next two years so it can transform the long-abandoned Carnegie Library into "the Smithsonian of Pinball."

"We were able to give the Meyers House a new paint job last year," said Alameda Museum curator George Gunn. "However the house and garden need more work, including a makeover for the old carriage house."

City Manager John Russo is looking forward to being able to play pinball across the street from his City Hall office.

"The prospect of having a pinball museum at the Carnegie is exciting and the city looks forward to taking the next steps with the Pacific Pinball Museum to make our common vision a reality," Russo said in an earlier interview.

 

KRE Radio had been in this Berkeley building for 12 years when this photo was taken in 1949. File photo