Steamboat Era Museum
P.O. Box 132
Irvington VA 22480
Mission Statement The Steamboat Era Museum's mission is to collect, preserve and act as a depository of artifacts and all types of information pertaining to the steamboats that served the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The Museum exists for the enjoyment, education, understanding and interpretation of the lifestyles and travel of the area from 1813 through 1937.
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Barbara D Brecher
Board Chair Ms. Nancy Travers
Board Chair Company Affiliation 101.7 Bay FM &104.9 WIGO Country
Contact Information
Address P.O. Box 132
Irvington, VA 22480
Telephone 804 438-6888
Fax 804 438-6598
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1999
Financial Summary
Revenue vs Expense Bar Graph - All Years
Expense Breakdown Bar Chart - All Years
Projected Revenue $147,000.00
Projected Expenses $147,000.00
Additional Documents
Brochure SEM2012View
Mission The Steamboat Era Museum's mission is to collect, preserve and act as a depository of artifacts and all types of information pertaining to the steamboats that served the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The Museum exists for the enjoyment, education, understanding and interpretation of the lifestyles and travel of the area from 1813 through 1937.
Impact During these challenging economic times we  continue to refine realistic financial budgeting models with appropriate fiscal controls to ensure financial sustainability. Through social media, print, and by word of mouth, our reputation has grown and we are attracting groups from around the states of Virginia and Maryland. Our reputation also attracts new board members and business leaders who are committed to actively supporting the museum mission. We have collected, with the assistance of the Virginia Foundations of the Humanities (VFH), the largest oral history library known of the steamboat era. We are working toward sharing these valuable stories with students, researchers and visitors  worldwide.We plan to expand our library and our viewing territory online and in-house. We continue to work diligently with the changing market to ensure future sustainability. We plan to continue to grow our visitation base, through our website, events, lectures and programs.
Needs Our greatest difficulty is to fill the gap of the loss of $90,000 in past funding. We are located in rural America with no large corporations as means of support. Though our membership base and community remains loyal, the level of giving has decreased. Fund raising is made more difficult as there are many wonderful, struggling local agencies and the resources are limited. With three grants from VHF we have acquired the largest oral history library of this era. Our goal is to transcribe, edit and reformat to place on the web with a cross-referenced menu for easy research ($8000.)  We would like to expand the accessibility of our oral history library with additional touch screens ($4500.)  We are fortunate to have skilled graphic designers so we design and  print everything in-house. We had been gifted a laser printer that is quite aged and tired. We would like to be cost conscience and continue to produce all printed material in-house which would require a new scanner printer ($3900.)
The museum began as a grassroots effort to preserve the rich and vital history of the importance of steamboat travel on the Chesapeake Bay. No one tells this story and it was feared by the next generation the history would be lost. The dedication, talent and expertise of its creators has produced a quality and unique museum. Visitors not only learn the history, but, are deeply moved, for the story conveys the human side of effects of steamboats connecting once isolated farms and towns to the outside world.
We have, through three grants from the VFH, collected the largest oral history library of this era. We are working on sharing this library online.
CEO Statement
The Steamboat Era Museum tells a story that no one else has told. The story we tell is one of how the onset of steamboats completely changed the lives of everyone living along the Chesapeake. We tell the human side, how steamboats connected small isolated towns and family farms to the outside world, bringing commerce, culture, education and medical care. With grants from VFH we have collected an array of oral histories from those who traveled on, worked on, were affected by these vessels. These rich videos bring to life a vital time that not so long ago would have been lost forever. Our unique approach to capturing this era is what charmed the Chesapeake Gateway Network of the NPS into granting us network status. The museum touches visitors by creating a very personal and enriching experience.
This has been reflected many times in the comments written by visitors exiting the museum "I never expected to see a Smithsonian-quality museum in a small town." "What a special museum!  So glad I stopped to learn about this interesting piece of American history. Thank you!"  "This is a delightful museum; well worth the side trip."  "I now realize that even a great author like James Mitchner did not cover all the wonders of the Chesapeake that contributed to American life. The museum has inspired me to read more into the history of Virginia and her steamboats!" "Exceeded expectations! Just wonderful!"  "Absolutely terrific museum! Thank you, Thank you!"
This kind of enthusiasm witnessed daily by our volunteers reinforces their dedication. Many of our volunteers and docents feel a personal connection and, with great pride, return annually to support the museum. I have been with the museum seven of its eight years and feel honored to have been a part of its creation and growth into a unique and enriching learning experience for all. But there is still so much we can do, I look forward to its future growth.
Board Chair Statement
   Our visitors often comment on how surprised they are to find a top-quality museum in a small town setting.  We pride ourselves in successfully delivering interesting and notable displays, exhibits and oral histories which tell the story of life on the Chesapeake Bay during the steamboat era from 1813 until 1937.  In addition, we have secured local help from expert artisans, historians and interpreters whose work allows our visitors to immerse themselves into an era that ended over 75 years ago.
    The museum is the steward of the largest remaining relic of a Chesapeake Bay steamboat.  The centerpiece of our collection is the pilot house from the steamer “Potomac.”  Built in Philadelphia in 1894, the Potomac served the Bay area for 42 years in freight and passenger service.  In 1936, she was finally forced into retirement after colliding with a freighter on a foggy night.  Plans have been developed to complete a total restoration of this historic artifact.
     We first opened our doors just 8 years ago and have since created a tourist attraction of real historical and educational value.  However, since 2008, when the economy slid into a steep recession, our museum experienced significant financial challenges.  Like many other museums, our state and local funding has fallen, dropping from a peak of $87,000 to just $500 last year.  Tourism in general has decreased, along with a decline in membership giving and total visitor counts.  As a result, the museum’s board took aggressive action to restructure the museum’s finances, paid down debt and slashed operating expenses to the bone.  Looking forward, we remain very optimistic about our potential for future growth from an improved financial footing.
     I elected to volunteer and serve this museum for variety of reasons, including its importance to the quality of life in the Northern Neck region.  However, my main passion stems from the impact the steamboat era had on my own family history.  My grandfather grew up in a small fishing village in Mathews County, Virginia at the turn of the 20th century.  The steamboat played an important role in how my family eventually migrated to Baltimore in search of work and a better life.  
     I encourage you to visit our museum, consider supporting its historical mission, and experience what life was like living on the Chesapeake Bay during the age of the steamboat. 
Areas of Service
Areas Served
Northern Neck
Lancaster County
Middlesex County
Northumberland County
Tri-cities Region
Northern Virginia
The museum is located in the historic waterside village of Irvington Virginia, however the tale that is told represents all small towns and villages throughout the Chesapeake Bay region in Virginia and Maryland. This part of history, though occurring on the Chesapeake Bay effected the entire globe.
Board Chair
Board Chair Ms. Nancy Travers
Company Affiliation 101.7 Bay FM &104.9 WIGO Country
Term Apr 2016 to Apr 2018
Board CoChair
Board CoChair Ms Helen Slatfford
Company Affiliation SEM Volunteer
Term Apr 2016 to Apr 2017
Board of Directors
Board Members
Ms. Barbara Baxter Community Volunteer
Ms. Cay Bradley Self Employed
Ms. Kylie Bransford Bank of Lancaster
Mr. Randolph Graham Community Volunteer
Ms. Fran Kelly Retired
Mr. Randall Kipp Randall Kipp Architecture
Mr. Eric Nost Virginia Commonwealth Bank
Ms. Victoria Oliver Chesapeake Bank
Mr. Fred Pevahouse SEM Volunteer
Mayor Rannie Ransone Town of Irvington
Ms. Helen Slatford Community Volunteer
Ms. Nancy Travers WKWI
Mr. James Ward Retired
Mr. Phillip Williams Rappahannock Westminister Canterbury
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 10
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 5
Female 5
Board Term Lengths 3
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Under Development
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 12
Standing Committees
Board Governance
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Special Events (Golf Tournament, Walk / Run, Silent Auction, Dinner / Gala)
Other Boards
The tables below contain information about other groups that advise this nonprofit on operations and projects.
We are in a point of museum life where it is vital to have an enthusiastic working board. We choose board members that are willing and able to fulfill specific needs. A list of potential members is updated annually.
Executive Director
Executive Director Ms. Barbara D Brecher
Experience Ms Brecher has been the Executive Director of the Steamboat Era Musuem since September 2013. In addition she is President and Creative Director of Brecher Design Group 100% woman-owned, full-service graphic design firm.

Ms. Brecher was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts.  She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts - Art Education, from the University of
Massachusetts and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Communication Design from the Rochester Institute of Technology.  While in Rochester,
Ms. Brecher operated a successful freelance graphic design business.  She also served as Director of the Public Communication Service Program, a 20-week program offered to non-profit organizations to strengthen their public relations efforts. Ms. Brecher became Director
of Publications at the University of Rochester Medical Center in 1981, where she was responsible for the design and production of all
publications at the Center.

Ms. Brecher moved to Virginia in 1986 and started freelancing. Upon moving to Alexandria in 1988, she became actively involved in the Old Town community. In 1988 she started a new business venture, Brecher Design Group, a successful marketing and graphic design firm located in Old Town Alexandria. The firm’s clients include national associations, corporations, not for profit organizations and educational entities.
Ms. Brecher is committed to delivering full marketing design services that are conceptual, visual, articulate and meet all project objectives. Services offered by BDG include concept development, graphic design, art direction, layout, photography, illustration, electronic media and print management, and copy writing.

In 2001 Ms. Brecher, along with her husband, purchased the Alexandria Guide Magazine. The Guide was published six times a year. . It was an
advertiser supported visitor guide to the restaurants, shops, galleries and events in Alexandria, Virginia. The magazine received the Hospitality Small Business Award from the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce in 2004. Brecher Design was responsible for the design of the magazine.
In 2009 Ms. Brecher and her husband sold the magazine.

In the fall of 2009, Ms. Brecher began teaching at the Art Institute of Washington (AIW) in Rosslyn, Virginia. She was a part-time faculty
member and taught various design courses including typography, art direction and a two quarter senior class, Senior Research Project and Senior Research. In Fall 2010, Ms. Brecher was appointed to a full-time faculty position at AIW where she continued to teach upper level classes. In addition she presented workshops on bookbinding, requirements for student portfolio reviews and was active in advising students with their academic programs.

Ms. Brecher has served on expert panels for design contests including ones held by the United Way and other Alexandria-based associations.  She has received recognition and awards for both her philanthropy, community involvement and her talent, including ones from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Alexandria Volunteer Bureau, International Printing Craftsman, and the Art Directors Club of Metropolitan Washington and the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce.  She served as President of the King Street Business Association in Alexandria, Virginia and was honored as an Alexandria Living Legend.

Ms. Brecher is also an accomplished fiber artist as well as a lampwork artist. She creates her works at her studio in Lottsburg ,Virginia.  In
addition Ms. Brecher has published two book Alef-Taf: An Alef-Bet Book and Rivah Friends, a children’s book about her dog and his heron pal.
Full Time Staff 1
Volunteers 55
Retention Rate 100
Organization has a Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has a Strategic Plan? Yes
Management Succession Plan? No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
Fiscal Year
Projected Revenue $147,000.00
Projected Expenses $147,000.00
Endowment Value $23,865.88
Spending Policy Income Only
Form 990s
IRS Letter of Exemption
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201520142013
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$0$0$0
Individual Contributions$31,347$24,391$37,084
Investment Income, Net of Losses------
Membership Dues$12,540$29,947$13,401
Special Events$31,387$38,807$22,778
Revenue In-Kind------
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201520142013
Program Expense$91,141$107,352$76,157
Administration Expense$11,629$21,140$14,689
Fundraising Expense$8,419$8,186$11,018
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.880.770.75
Program Expense/Total Expenses82%79%75%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue11%12%18%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201520142013
Total Assets$491,185$515,277$548,387
Current Assets$29,437$37,783$48,262
Long-Term Liabilities$195,927$203,452$211,350
Current Liabilities$12,592$9,505$8,755
Total Net Assets$282,665$302,319$328,282
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities2.343.985.51
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets40%39%39%
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
State Charitable Solicitaions Permit
Solicitations Permit
Solicitations Permit 5/2016View
Organization Comments
The books and records are kept by Steven S Hollberg, CPA, PC.  The firm prepares monthly, annual and interim reports and the Form 990.
The 2014 revenues and expenses have been projected at a Board meeting in December 2013.  These figures have been set to on this portal.