JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—A particularly invasive and pernicious termite infestation is forcing the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens in Riverside to demolish a building in which they've invested $7 million.
Battling back the infestation would prove to be financially prohibitive and the museum decided in early March that they couldn't save the building.
The building, the Women's Club of Jacksonville, is just west of the main campus and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It will now be demolished after a team of entomologists, scientists, architects and engineers failed to save the building from the Formosan termites eating it.
In addition to the loss of that building, two great oaks at the Cummer are also infested. The most well-known tree on the museum's campus, the Cummer Oak, is not infested.
"We are deeply disappointed by this turn of events," said Cummer Museum Board of Trustees Chairman Ryan Schwartz Tuesday. The team trying to save the building worked for months and came up unsuccessful.
Attendance at the Cummer has been up recently, and the Women's Club building was to be used for community outreach and education programs. The building was to help expand the services offered to museum patrons.
The museum's Board of Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to begin working on a plan for a new building in that space. The new plan includes the creation of additional galleries, a Garden Greenhouse and Learning Center, as well as the renovation of Art Connections.
Specific details are still being worked out, and Schwatz said he'll update the public and donors as soon as the Board decides on something concrete.
A treatment plan is in place to stop the spread of the termites and to protect the Cummer Oak and other structures on the Cummer grounds.
Schwartz said that the Cummer has enough funds to cover the costs of the termite infestation and that no endowment or donor dollars have been used. He continued that the Cummer will continue operating as usual.
This problem is one that may not only be affecting the Cummer. According to experts, you should start looking for signs of termite damage in your home.
""Mud tubes. Usually they're found in the baseboards or around the windows where the termites have made their way in," John Cooksey said. He's with McCall Service, a pest control company in Jacksonville.
But there are also ways to prevent a serious infestation, one that could cause thousands of dollars in damage for you and your family.
"Any wood-to-soil contact on your house. So that means get rid of the firewood that's sitting around your house," Cooksey said.
Hope McMath, the executive director of the Cummer, said that she hopes people will be able to learn from the museum's problem and not be victims in the future.
"They mass produce themselves and they do destruction really fast," McMath said.
She said the museum is getting ready to move forward with renovations and that the termite problem is just a bump in the road.