In 2016 George Denney gave your Historical Society a gift of one million dollars in response to a declaration of need from the board at our Annual Meeting that year. The board was referring to the fact that we own a set of 190-year-old buildings that require all sorts of TLC and updates, along with a desperate need for a fireproof vault. It was a thrilling moment! The statement was made not as an ‘ask’ so much, but as a heads up that the need existed, and the request for support would be coming. The meeting rolled on for a few minutes before George stood up at the back of the room, raised his hand and said, “wait a minute – I have something to say.” He strode to the microphone and declared, “Freeport has been good to Joyce and me, and we like to think we have been good to Freeport. And tonight, I would like to say we are going to give the Historical Society One Million Dollars.” There was a stunned silence for a moment and then the audience leapt to their feet in applause. Three days later, George and Joyce handed me the check. I asked, “George, really, how do you want us to spend the money?” He replied, “You figure it out. But, I want to see this property be the anchor of Main Street.” It has taken far longer than we imagined to explore the many possible designs, approaches, and solutions to achieve our goals, while learning just how expensive it can be to adapt old buildings to safer modern standards. As we launch this project, we hope you will be as excited as we are with this final plan which will improve the facility in so many ways.
PROTECT THE COLLECTION:
Build a new fireproof VAULT with museum grade shelving and atmospheric controls to organize and protect our historic documents, paintings, and artifacts.
MAKE THE BUILDINGS ACCESSIBLE:
Provide wheelchair access through the gardens and a RAMP from the parking lot to our new front entrance on the ell
STABILIZE THE BARN:
Provide critical foundation and flooring repairs to the BARN to host a new vendor/tenant in our unique space.
PROVIDE RESEARCH/LIBRARY SPACE:
Restore the ELL with a new accessible public bathroom, life safety and security improvements, and offer space for researching and exploring the collections with staff support.