After the October, 2011 announcement that , owned and operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, , it may come as some surprise that the site will open as planned to the public on April 6 and with a full calendar.
The staff, now down to six, took the winter months when the place annually shuts down to regroup, repaint and reroute its vision.
Behind the scenes: Krystyn Hastings-Silver, restoration project manager for the last five years was asked to step in since October as Acting Site Administrator. The staff people there now are “all very strong,” she said. Acting Director Cindy Mallinick, operating out of the D.C. National Trust headquarters is overseeing new hiring. They've invited the former staff manager to reapply for the job, and are hiring a manager of visitor services. A search has been launched for a new executive director. Marketing, apparently, will stay centralized through the D.C. office.
And visible to the public: the museum gift shop has moved to the Carriage House. Over the winter, the original 1860s ground floor doors were all removed, restored and reglazed. Wooden trim around windows and doors were restored to their original bronze color. Workers will be repainting the veranda in the coming months.
As part of a new “Preservation in Action” program, visitors will be able to take different journeys through the property inside and out to examine casted finials vs. the originals, for instance, or look at a 3-D cutaway of the slate roof on the gate house. The site was selected to work closely with Cornell University's masters program in historic preservation, and students will be undertaking different renovation projects all over the property in the public eye.
"You are literally walking into a time capsule," Hastings-Silver said. "There are very few Hudson River museums that are intact. From the 1840s to 1961 it was continually occupied. That's amazing. You get the experience of being in the real McCoy. It is what it was. We have the furniture, that's the room.”
Events in the works (check with their website for dates and updates): Lego Family Fun, the craft shows, Preservation in Action talk series on Saturdays running through May, Arbor Day events, Scarecrow Invasion, gradeschool programs during the week.
Rivertown jazz man Mark Morganelli “has been wonderful," said Hastings-Silver, and they are in the process now of building a third summer concert season with him. Though she noted that “we are the host, he secures the funding,” so it has yet to be finalized.
Perhaps the most notable, and welcome, change for the community will be apparent right at the front gate: as part of a “trial run,” said Hastings-Silver, guests will now be able to wander the grounds for free from dawn to dusk, without having to pay the old $5 fee at the gate.
“We are looking forward to having the public come back and showing them we are okay," Hastings-Silver said. "Our goal is to move through this transition period to become a community resource. We had underutilized opportunities here. Whatever closes there's a window that opens."
Weekend public tours will begin April 6 through Dec. 31, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.