Below is a letter that we want to share with all of you. This is an updated version of a letter that was originally sent to the members of the Amity and Woodbridge Historical Society (AWHS) in July.
It has unfortunately been a difficult last few months for the Historical Society and we want to take this opportunity to update all of you. Some of you may have heard about some of the difficulties we have been experiencing. Several months ago, after much discussion and soul searching, the Historical Society decided that to ensure the continued preservation of the Darling house, we must be clear to all concerned that the caretaker tenant lease is separate and apart from a farm lease. Because our caretaker tenant was later granted a farm lease by the town on the property, in the view of some people they had become linked.
What the Darling house and the historical society need, first and foremost, is a caretaker whose primary motivation for living on the property is to work with the historical society for the care and preservation of the house, outbuildings, and our collections. We have come to the realization that the primary motivation for a farmer to live on the property by definition will be farming. Because we had concerns about the performance of our caretaker tenant, we relieved him of his caretaker duties. The board of directors, for the time being, has assumed the caretaker duties because the tenant still lives in the caretaker’s cottage, thus preventing us from having a new caretaker move in. We have been interviewing caretakers all summer and have some good possibilities and hope that that the town will permit us to have a new caretaker installed quickly.
The society has hired a lawyer, Dwight Merriam, www.dwightmerriam.com, to work with the town on our behalf to solve our current lease problems. We are seeking to have the tenant move out as soon as possible and to have structures that the tenant erected for his farming operations, but that are detrimental to the historic fabric of the Darling house, removed. Attorney Merriam will also be working with the town to update and improve both the lease for the caretaker’s cottage and the Society’s long-term property management agreement with the town.
We want to assure all of you that our primary focus remains preserving the Darling House property and our collections. We are working to ensure that necessary renovations are performed, and that they are done sensitively so as to preserve all of the historic fabric that exists (which is substantial!). As you know, we have been working to expand our programming and want to continue to do so in way that allows us to preserve our collections and our buildings and share them with all of you in a more interactive way. In order to achieve the living history experiences that we believe you appreciate we know that we must focus on the quality of our exhibits and programs thus necessitating limiting the quantity of them. Unfortunately, due to the current events, we found it necessary to cancel our summer open house/ice cream social in July. Although we are still not able to have our usual events, we are planning an alternative outdoor family day event in September.
We thank you for your continued support, and are happy to answer any additional questions you might have. We hope that we will be able to see you again soon at the Darling House.
The AWHS Board of Directors