As the nights turn cold, Marjorie Block’s mind turns to thoughts of heat. The village historian and president of the Saugerties Historical Society said $3,000 is needed to heat the 18th-century stone house that serves as the society’s headquarters and repository for Saugerties antiquities.
Block said the thermostat is set at around 55 degrees and, in addition to the main house, there’s an efficiency apartment for the caretaker. Last year, the society used 1,200 gallons of heating oil.
She said the society spent its budget for the year on a project to relocate a period barn from Kings Highway to the site. It is hoped that rental of the barn for special events will provide revenue in the future, but as winter approaches and the coffers are empty, Block is seeking donations from residents, groups and the Village Board.
At its most recent meeting, village trustees read from a letter asking for help. Trustee Donald Hackett said that he would be willing to donate to the project out of his pocket and suggested that maybe there might be some way for the trustees as a body to do something as well.
Mayor William Murphy said trustees would consider putting a regular line item into their yearly operating budget for the Historical Society. At one time, the village made regular contributions, but that practice stopped at least several years ago.
The Town Board continues to make donations to the society. At its peak of donations, it gave $12,000 a year, but over the years that number was reduced to $8,000.
Block said she’s also seeking donations from the Saugerties Area Chamber of Commerce and the Kiwanis Club.
The town donation makes up about a third of the society’s total budget. Donations from individuals and organizations and revenue from events and grants make up the remainder.
The society does not charge a regular admission fee because most visitors are senior citizens and school groups, according to Block.
“We just need to get through this winter and then we’ll be fine,” Block said.
When asked why the society doesn’t switch its furnace from fuel oil to natural gas, she said it would be too costly overall.
“Anytime we dig at the Kiersted House, it becomes an archeological process and the state makes sure the digging is done right and that an archeological review must take place,” she said, citing a $10,000 study required before the barn could be erected.
The finishing of the barn, Block hopes, will help bring in more money next year. “We already have two couples looking at holding their wedding and their reception at the barn in the spring,” she said.
To donate to the fuel oil fund, checks can be made out to the Saugerties Historical Society and sent to 119 Main St., Saugerties N.Y. 12477.