Historical Society Takes Possession of Future Sci-Fi Museum Building

WARREN, Ohio – A proposed science fiction museum is one step closer to becoming reality.

The Trumbull County Historical Society on Wednesday took ownership of a downtown building at 410 Main Ave. SW that will be the future home of a museum of science fiction and fantasy.

The previous owner, Dale Bell, handed the keys to Meghan Reed, executive director of the TCHS, in a small ceremony at the building.

The TCHS purchased the building for $275,000, using American Rescue Plan money supplied by Warren Councilman Andrew Herman and former Councilpersons Ashley Miner-McBride and Ken MacPherson.

“They could see the tourism and economic development potential of the project,” Reed said.

The historical society will soon launch a fundraising campaign to transform the four-story, 18,000-square-foot brick structure into a museum of pop culture items.

The building at 410 Main Ave. SW., Warren, will be the future home of a museum of science fiction and fantasy.

The first step is to hire an architect. The TCHS is currently interviewing firms, Reed said.

The cost of the project will not be known until the architect develops a plan and the board approves it, Reed said. “We hope to start the capital campaign in the spring,” she said.

Foundations, Valley residents and national science-fiction organizations will be targeted for donations and grants, she said.

The goal is to open the museum in 2026.

The ground floor will house a welcome center, gift shop and café, plus some space for exhibits that can be rotated in and out, Reed said. The café will be open to members of the public, regardless of whether they are visiting the museum.

The second and third floors will house permanent exhibits, and the fourth floor will become an event space that can be rented for conventions and sci-fi themed parties, Reed said.

Though it’s well over a century old, the building is in solid structural shape. It was constructed around 1900 and housed a grocery supply business in its early days.

“The previous owner did a great job of maintaining it,” Reed said.

The interior of the first floor of the building at 410 Main Ave. SW., Warren.

The first floor already has updated heating and wiring. A counter and kitchen area are already in place, remnants of a café that was once there. The walls on the entire first floor have been stripped to the red bricks. The ceiling has been removed, revealing the joists.

All windows in the building have been replaced.

The upper floors are in rougher condition, Reed said.

The first step of the renovation will be “getting the building to museum-quality standards,” Reed said. That means installing a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system on all floors, adding insulation and ensuring that the floors can support the weight of the exhibits and the guests.

Two elevators will have to be installed: one for freight and one for passengers.

The architect will determine how the exterior of the building will look, Reed said.

“We’re also developing a business plan for long-term financial stability and looking [to hire] exhibit design firms,” Reed said.

The TCHS has already been given a collection of about 500 movie props made and owned by John Zabrucky that will become a permanent exhibit at the museum. Zabrucky, a Warren native, is the founder of Modern Props, which created futuristic weapons and devices that were used in many Hollywood films and television series.

Reed said the museum will attempt to acquire additional items from the world of sci-fi and fantasy movies and pop culture.

“There are lots of [private] collections of sci-fi and fantasy works, but there currently is no museum of sci-fi and fantasy,” Reed said. “Our hope is to host these collections. For example, there are so many ‘Star Trek’ fans clubs, and we hope to do a ‘Star Trek’ exhibit. We want to bring national-known collections to Warren.”

Reed said she expects the museum will become a unique tourism attraction that will attract fans from across the country.

Pictured at top: Meghan Reed, executive director of the Trumbull County Historical Society, receives the key to the building from former owner Dale Bell at a press conference Wednesday.

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