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Heritage farm on road to renewal

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CROGHAN — Supporters have raised $20,000 for renovations at the Adirondack Mennonite Heritage Farm, but the Adirondack Mennonite Heritage Association is seeking an additional $15,000 for improvements to the homestead.

“We want to start working on the foundation of the granary,” AMHA President Bernadine Schwartzentruber said. “When they had animals in there, the heat from the animals kept the building warm, and now that it’s unoccupied, the thaw has destroyed that.”

The Mennonite Heritage Farm, on Erie Canal Road outside of Croghan, was a three-generation Mennonite family home until the late 1980s. The facility often is used for school tours and is home to the popular Zwanzigstein “Z” Fest in July. This year, 486 people attended the event.

Several stones that once held the granary’s foundation together now sit at the building’s sides. Rainwater has dripped down from the roof of a garage roughly 2 feet to the left of the building, causing further freeze/thaw damage on that side. Wood planks have been propped between the two buildings to keep stones from further jutting out of the granary’s wall. In order to prevent the issue from returning, mason Kenneth R. Good would have to do work below the frost level.

“Roof runoff will be diverted and better drainage in surrounding soil will be put in place,” Ms. Schwartzentruber said.

Currently, visitors are able to view the lower level only through windows as the floors of the upper levels are unstable. Reconstructing the foundation will allow access to the lower level, which in turn will demonstrate what that part of the granary once was used for.

“The interior of the lower level will be restored to show the chicken coop area with roost along the wall and the pig sty,” Ms. Schwartzentruber explained.

That portion of the restoration project, as well as work on the homestead’s water well, is expected to begin in the spring. But, according to the AMHA president, the foundation hopefully will be completed this fall, before the weather gets bad.

The renovation project began near the end of July with dismantling and reconstructing the old bridges on the barn. A new culvert and drainage system also were installed this summer, bringing the cost of the completed work to $9,775. Railings for the bridge were provided through a $300 grant from the Beaver River Central School District Youth Advisory Council.

The cost to repair the granary itself is estimated at $13,500, which includes re-doing the 6-foot-deep foundation and repairing the damaged wall.

In a letter seeking sponsorship, Ms. Schwartzentruber said, “Debris, brush has already been removed from around the barn, sheep shed, garage and granary and used as fill for the area between the barn and road. Eventually the driveway will loop around on top of this filled-in area to make it much more convenient.”

“This cleared area around the buildings will get a final grading and leveling next spring so that landscaping can proceed,” the letter said.

Part of the renovation project will include repairing a water well on the site, which, according to Ms. Schwartzentruber, does not obtain “a dependable supply of potable water.” The well likely will be addressed in the spring.

Any funds leftover following the renovations will be put towards the association’s other goal of re-doing the siding on the barn and main house, as well as tearing down and rebuilding a small barn on the site.

Photos of the renovations’ progress are visible at the museum’s Facebook page, http://wdt.me/7mRvwb.

Anyone interested in financially assisting the association may make checks payable to AMHA, memo: 2013 restoration, and mailed to Adirondack Mennonite Heritage Association c/o Donald Roggie, 4491 Boshart Road, Lowville, N.Y. 13367. Donations are tax deductible.

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