Ironton Museum’s doors will remain closed, owners say

  • One Greenfield family's collection of antiques, commonly known as the Ironton Museum, is no longer open to public tours. The Zoning Board will hold a public hearing on Dec. 5 to decide whether the not-for-profit tours given by the collection's owners, Donna and Tod Smith, count as a business. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    One Greenfield family's collection of antiques, commonly known as the Ironton Museum, is no longer open to public tours. The Zoning Board will hold a public hearing on Dec. 5 to decide whether the not-for-profit tours given by the collection's owners, Donna and Tod Smith, count as a business.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • One Greenfield family's collection of antiques, commonly known as the Ironton Museum, is no longer open to public tours. The Zoning Board will hold a public hearing on Dec. 5 to decide whether the not-for-profit tours given by the collection's owners, Donna and Tod Smith, count as a business. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    One Greenfield family's collection of antiques, commonly known as the Ironton Museum, is no longer open to public tours. The Zoning Board will hold a public hearing on Dec. 5 to decide whether the not-for-profit tours given by the collection's owners, Donna and Tod Smith, count as a business.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • One Greenfield family's collection of antiques, commonly known as the Ironton Museum, is no longer open to public tours. The Zoning Board will hold a public hearing on Dec. 5 to decide whether the not-for-profit tours given by the collection's owners, Donna and Tod Smith, count as a business. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    One Greenfield family's collection of antiques, commonly known as the Ironton Museum, is no longer open to public tours. The Zoning Board will hold a public hearing on Dec. 5 to decide whether the not-for-profit tours given by the collection's owners, Donna and Tod Smith, count as a business.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • One Greenfield family's collection of antiques, commonly known as the Ironton Museum, is no longer open to public tours. The Zoning Board will hold a public hearing on Dec. 5 to decide whether the not-for-profit tours given by the collection's owners, Donna and Tod Smith, count as a business. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    One Greenfield family's collection of antiques, commonly known as the Ironton Museum, is no longer open to public tours. The Zoning Board will hold a public hearing on Dec. 5 to decide whether the not-for-profit tours given by the collection's owners, Donna and Tod Smith, count as a business.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • One Greenfield family's collection of antiques, commonly known as the Ironton Museum, is no longer open to public tours. The Zoning Board will hold a public hearing on Dec. 5 to decide whether the not-for-profit tours given by the collection's owners, Donna and Tod Smith, count as a business. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    One Greenfield family's collection of antiques, commonly known as the Ironton Museum, is no longer open to public tours. The Zoning Board will hold a public hearing on Dec. 5 to decide whether the not-for-profit tours given by the collection's owners, Donna and Tod Smith, count as a business.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • Dozens of antique sewing machines are a portion of a collection of sewing materials collected by Donna Smith of Greenfield over the years. Smith and her husband have opened their property to those who wish to tour their antiques since 2006, under the name Ironton Museum.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Dozens of antique sewing machines are a portion of a collection of sewing materials collected by Donna Smith of Greenfield over the years. Smith and her husband have opened their property to those who wish to tour their antiques since 2006, under the name Ironton Museum.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • One Greenfield family's collection of antiques, commonly known as the Ironton Museum, is no longer open to public tours. The Zoning Board will hold a public hearing on Dec. 5 to decide whether the not-for-profit tours given by the collection's owners, Donna and Tod Smith, count as a business. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    One Greenfield family's collection of antiques, commonly known as the Ironton Museum, is no longer open to public tours. The Zoning Board will hold a public hearing on Dec. 5 to decide whether the not-for-profit tours given by the collection's owners, Donna and Tod Smith, count as a business.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • One Greenfield family's collection of antiques, commonly known as the Ironton Museum, is no longer open to public tours. The Zoning Board will hold a public hearing on Dec. 5 to decide whether the not-for-profit tours given by the collection's owners, Donna and Tod Smith, count as a business. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • One Greenfield family's collection of antiques, commonly known as the Ironton Museum, is no longer open to public tours. The Zoning Board will hold a public hearing on Dec. 5 to decide whether the not-for-profit tours given by the collection's owners, Donna and Tod Smith, count as a business. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • One Greenfield family's collection of antiques, commonly known as the Ironton Museum, is no longer open to public tours. The Zoning Board will hold a public hearing on Dec. 5 to decide whether the not-for-profit tours given by the collection's owners, Donna and Tod Smith, count as a business. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • One Greenfield family's collection of antiques, commonly known as the Ironton Museum, is no longer open to public tours. The Zoning Board will hold a public hearing on Dec. 5 to decide whether the not-for-profit tours given by the collection's owners, Donna and Tod Smith, count as a business. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • One Greenfield family's collection of antiques, commonly known as the Ironton Museum, is no longer open to public tours. The Zoning Board will hold a public hearing on Dec. 5 to decide whether the not-for-profit tours given by the collection's owners, Donna and Tod Smith, count as a business. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Dozens of antique sewing machines are a portion of a collection of sewing materials collected by Donna Smith of Greenfield over the years. Smith and her husband have opened their property to those who wish to tour their antiques since 2006, under the name Ironton Museum.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • One Greenfield family's collection of antiques, commonly known as the Ironton Museum, is no longer open to public tours. The Zoning Board will hold a public hearing on Dec. 5 to decide whether the not-for-profit tours given by the collection's owners, Donna and Tod Smith, count as a business. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

GREENFIELD — Tod and Donna Smith of Greenfield have been collecting antiques and large-scale equipment for years. And when cars started to stop by to view their vast collection of antiques, the couple decided to start giving tours seven years ago, calling it the Ironton Museum.

But that is over now, as the couple has decided to close their doors to public tours, after the town ruled Ironton Museum isn’t an appropriate use of the residential property.

“We’re done for good,” said Donna Smith in a telephone interview on Wednesday. After weighing the enjoyment they get out of sharing their collection with the prospective cost, time and effort needed to try to gain official approval from the town to continue giving tours, they have decided it will simply be easier to keep their private collection private, she said.

The couple were notified to cease the public tours they were giving of their private property in June by Building Inspector Peter Hopkins, because the Smith’s property is not zoned for a business such as a museum. The Smiths maintained that the Ironton Museum was not a for-profit business. The Smiths do not charge for the tours they give, and they consider the gathering of antiques a private collection they do not mind sharing with other interested residents.

The town disagreed, however, and in a public hearing on Dec. 5, the Zoning Board of Adjustment voted that if the Smiths wanted to continue to give public tours, they would have to undergo a site plan review with the Planning Board and gain a variance to run what the Zoning Board voted was a non-residential activity operating in a residential area.

Smith said that following the ruling by the Zoning Board, they moved forward with a conceptual consultation with the Planning Board on Jan. 14, to try to identify whether they would require a site plan review and pin down any potential problems, but weren’t satisfied with the outcome of the meeting. The Planning Board would not be able to give them concrete suggestions without first doing a walk-through of the property, said Smith.

During their Dec. 5 hearing, Planning Board Chair Bob Marshall told the Smiths a site plan review would cost a minimum of $50, but any consultations the Planning Board needed to make a decision would also fall on the Smiths. Without knowing for sure whether consultation would be needed, or the final cost of the process, the Smiths decided they were not interested in pursuing the process.

“It’s all unforeseen territory. This is our personal collection we like to share,” said Smith, “and it’s really not worth the hassle, so we will no longer be providing any tours.”

After considering their next step, the Smith family decided they do not want to move forward with the process of attempting to gain the needed variances to continue to run an operation they solely view as a hobby, and will be closing the doors to the Ironton Museum permanently.

“I think it’s a shame that it’s leaving and no longer going to be open to all the many people that enjoyed it,” said Smith. “I’ve had teachers say it was the best field trip they’ve been on, and we’ve had adults come through and complement the property and what we’re providing. We think it’s a great loss to Greenfield.”

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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