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The View From Here: A Message from the President by Gary N. Costello

posted Apr 23, 2012, 11:20 AM by Pamela Davison   [ updated Apr 23, 2012, 11:21 AM ]

The Patriot, Volume 3, Issue 2  – May 2009

Things look pretty good from where I stand.  Great strides have been made on many fronts.  This historic home, resting in this exact location for 200 years, is truly a unique site.  There is nothing else like this venerable old pioneer era farmstead still in existence in Erie County.  It is truly a unique surviving example of early federal style architecture.  To bring this grand stone dwelling to life again as a fully restored example of a home characterizing life on the frontier, with all of the appurtenant structures typically found on such a farmstead, will be striking.  To do so will bring a new dimension to the tangible examples of our local history and add immeasurably to western New York's family of heritage and cultural tourism sites.

We are slowly but surely advancing towards our goal of bringing a fuller awareness of this stately old home and its history to all the residents of our region.  More and more visitors are finding us and it seems we can hardly speak to anyone who does not say, “Oh, yes, I know where that is.”

Likewise, we are steadily gaining on the work that will culminate in a restored interior – a goal we have set for ourselves to attain before 2009 is out, in time for the 200th anniversary of the house.  A major component of that effort was to rebuild the common room fireplace.  We are pleased that the bulk of the masonry work to return that long missing fireplace - the only one missing of the original seven - is now complete.

There is no other site in western New York that can boast of as many historic 'connections' as the Hull House.  Connections that stretch from the American Revolution – the War of 1812 – the Erie Canal – Westward Expansion – the Civil War and everything in between.

The house continues to tease us by slowly revealing small bits of its features and its history.  Our architects, archaeologists and historical researchers are all contributing their expertise toward that end.    The picture of this early homestead is developing more and more – although we are aware and accepting of the fact that it will never be complete. 

We have successfully grown the site from under one acre in 1992, to more than seventeen acres today – with plans to add two additional parcels of 7 acres and 4 acres.  Plans are developing that will allow the presentation of an early 19th century farmstead, that will clearly convey a picture of life on the frontier – of a time long since past.   Once assembled, the expanded site will offer a fuller, richer experience to our visitors and students.

Our mission is one of education, and our programming keeps that goal solidly in mind as we build our collaborations with a variety of educational partners – library, school system, historical society and other like minded institutions.

Over the past six years we have raised over 1.2 million dollars to advance the work on the restoration.  These funds have come from private and public sources and include donations of $5 to grants of a quarter million.  Many new grant applications continue to be drafted and submitted for consideration.  Just as valuable as the dollars is the thousands of hours of labor donated by the hundreds of individuals who comprise the Hull House Development Team, corps of docents, and army of volunteers.  All people who have dedicated themselves to this endeavor, making it all happen – and all without a single paid staff member.  And new members are constantly added to the team as more folks step forward. 

It is truly an exceptional effort, put forth on behalf of an exceptional historic site, by a group of extraordinary, yet 'ordinary' people. Much has been accomplished.  Much more remains to be done to bring the vision to full fruition – land acquisition, master interpretive plan development, construction of a visitors center, fields to be plowed, and crops to be planted.  We face it all with a great sense of optimism, excitement, confidence and pride.  Yes, the view from here is good indeed!