Crews were busy working Thursday afternoon on the visitors center for the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park at the Ford Point building in Richmond when we came by to take a peek.
The center will be open for VIP guests Friday night before the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy show and gala at the Craneway Pavilion next door in the Ford building.
The general public can get its first look at the center at the grand opening from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
The festivities Saturday will also include the 1 p.m. dedication of a new stretch of Bay Trail on Canal Boulevard in the Port of Richmond that will lead hikers and cyclers to the SS Red Oak Victory.
If you can’t make the opening, the center will be open daily at the Ford Point building, 1414 Harbour Way South, staffed by volunteer docents.
It will be worth repeat visits to the interim exhibits and gift shop now in place, and a return look next summer, when new interactive exhibits now being developed are put in place.
The National Park Service also envisions special programs, including new films under production about aspects of the war years that will be shown in the center’s downstairs theater, and classes for area students on the significance of the period.
Park ranger Betty Reid Soskin, 90, also toured the building Thursday and offered these observations:
Just returned from the Visitors Education Center next to the Ford Building.
We’ve had all hands from all of our 4-park consortium doing all of the last minute things (assembling borrowed exhibits, painting temporary walls, getting instructions for the operation of the facility, etc.) and are you going to be pleased!
It’s a magical space, far larger than at first perceived, and more than adequate than I’d thought possible even a week ago.
Listened to the contractor and inspectors as they gave instructions on the various operating systems and tried to imagine at what point I’d hear the words — “there’ the flashing red light — the water’s rising! — someone call Betty! Nevah hoppen. I figure this ranger’s call button is a long way down the list in the event of emergencies.
But you know what? I still wield a mean hammer and can call up a straight line when required.
Hope you’ll all be on hand on Saturday when we cut the tape, salute the flag, and officially give birth to this amazing new Richmond park site.