There are two primary reasons to have a house for the BHS: 1) the physical space provides a place to meet, educate members of the BHS, and plan, and 2) larger crowds of people not directly affiliated with the BHS are allowed to learn about history important to the BHS and hopefully in the future they become involved in preserving important parts of our past.
The Tefft house has a lot of desirable elements that any good-willed historic society would want: provenance, location and parking, generous sized rooms, and plenty of room to rent out in order to supplement overhead. Everyone knows the house would require hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair. Even more if the decision was made to restore it. Most of the work is structural, making work contribution from the members not plausible. Once it gets to the decorating stage, most folks would probably love to get involved.
After completion the house would be an enormous asset to the BHS and the community. People would want to photograph it for magazines. People would want tours. I think you have a wonderful small house now. That is an asset. You also have a great curator who tells me he can obtain grants. That is an asset.
If the intention of this building is to take on a museum quality, then I like the idea of making it a regional museum, something like the Penobscot Museum, and working with all the towns in the area. Ask people for donations of objects for display, objects that can be sold to raise money, donations of money, stocks, building materials, or just their time. Make it kid friendly so parents will want to take their kids there after school.
If you can get the building and sell the current house, one room can be taken at a time. Certainly it won't need the expensive work of a kitchen. Maybe a decorator with a computer program could generate some representations of how some rooms would look after completion to stir up interest and involvement. The downside of the project is well known to everyone: enormous cost, current state of the economy, funding must be ongoing with someone attending to that constantly. I believe the previous owners bought the property always intending to fix up the house, yet never had the membership, the community involvement, or the ability or know-how to tap into local, state or federal funds. You have some of the same problems but you may have some people better equipped at finding money.
Dan Moellentin, PharmD
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