The Springfield Museums have received a gift of $1,000,000 from Mr. Allen Swift of West Hartford to purchase the Verizon building at 85 Chestnut Street in Springfield for the purpose of creating a new history museum. Swift also donated his 1928, one-owner, Springfield-built Rolls-Royce automobile to form the basis of the new museum's transportation collection.
Swift, who died in October 2005 at the age of 102, was a legend among Rolls-Royce collectors for owning his green Phantom I, S273 FP Rolls longer than anyone in the world had ever owned an individual Rolls-Royce. In recognition of that fact, Rolls-Royce Motors presented him with a crystal Spirit of Ecstasy award at the Rolls-Royce Annual Meeting in 1994. Swift and the Springfield Museums were brought together through a network of antique automobile collectors. In 2002, when he was 99 years old, he approached the Museums to discuss finding a new home for his Rolls-Royce. Confident in the Springfield Museums' ability to care for the automobile and to tell the story of Rolls-Royce manufacturing in Springfield, Swift indicated that he would donate his car if a building could be found to house it. In the summer of 2005, the Springfield Museums became aware that the Verizon building, adjacent to the Museums, was available for purchase. Joseph Carvalho, president of the Springfield Museums, and Guy McLain, director of the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum, shared that information with Swift and described how the building could be converted into a museum. In September, Swift's attorney informed the Museums that Swift would donate the money to purchase the building. The Springfield Museums will take possession of the building in June and will launch a fund-raising campaign to renovate it. When complete, the new Museum of Springfield History will display wide range of remarkable artifacts that tell the rich and multidimensional history of this city.