Corvette Museum acquires FOP Lodge property

The former location of FOP Lodge 13 is seen Sunday on Corvette Drive.

Trying to keep pace with its growing assortment of historic cars and other memorabilia, Bowling Green’s National Corvette Museum has reclaimed property it sold nearly two decades ago and has plans to use it for collections storage and office space.

In July, the museum purchased the 7.5-acre Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 13 property at 150 Corvette View for $1.3 million. The property, adjacent to the museum and home to the 8,000-square-foot FOP Lodge building for the past 17 years, will allow museum Curator Derek Moore to have office space for his staff and a permanent location for storing a growing collection of donated cars and other items.

Museum Director of Marketing and Communications Katie Ellison said in an email that donations to the NCM have picked up in recent years, creating a need for extra storage space.

“Especially since the sinkhole in 2014, we’ve had a lot of Corvettes and other items donated,” she said. “We have been bursting at the seams.”

In addition to collections storage and office space, Ellison said the lodge building will have a studio for photographing cars and artifacts and for conducting video interviews.

NCM President and CEO Sean Preston said some donated items are now being stored at the NCM Motorsports Park or in various areas in the museum building.

“This (new property) allows the curator and his staff to focus on one location,” Preston said. “We’ll have room for more collections now.”

The collections include cars as well as racing suits, car parts and other memorabilia, some of which could periodically move from storage to display at the main museum.

A boon for the museum as it prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary later this month, the sale could also help the local FOP lodge realize its goals.

“We wanted to get the lodge to where it was financially independent,” said Shawn Helbig, president of FOP Lodge No. 13 for the past 16 years. “Through the sale of this property, we can get to that point.”

The local FOP lodge, which has some 350 active or retired law enforcement professionals as members, holds monthly meetings that Helbig said will continue at the NCM for now.

“We’ll take a year or so, be thankful for the gracious hospitality of the National Corvette Museum, and look for a smaller venue,” Helbig said. “It may be something downtown, which would be more convenient for many of our members.”

Helbig said the philanthropic work of the FOP – which includes supporting such events as Shop with a Cop, Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets and a “Scare Skate” event on Halloween – will continue.

“We have no intention of scaling back on our philanthropic work,” he said. “All the money we bring in goes back to the community.”

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.

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