On Saturday, June 23, about 40 Hillsdale including members of the Town Board, members of Historic Hillsdale, the town’s preservation organization, owners of buildings in the Hamlet, and other interested citizens gathered at the Town Hall to celebrate the installation of four elegant signs at the entrances to the Hamlet, proclaiming Hillsdale as a Historic District, one of 13,594 in the US. Portions of the Hillsdale Hamlet have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, contributing to the pride of the residents in their historic architecture and giving contributing building owners the eligibility to apply for state and federal tax credits on repairs to their property.
Historic Hillsdale also announced that their next project is to repair and restore the exterior of the Town Hall. Formerly the Hillsdale Public Library, the building was the impetus for the preservation efforts in Hillsdale; once the library moved to its new location on Route 22, there was nothing in place to ensure that one of Hillsdale’s most historic buildings would remain. The Town Board, led by Art Baer, voted to use funds set aside to build a new Town Hall, to purchase the building from the Library trustees, making it an example of adaptive re-use that is a model for other towns in the State.
The interior of Town Hall was renovated to historic preservation and accessibility standards. The exterior requires extensive work on the parapets, pointing, the roof, the windows, and painting. A restored front entrance is planned. A preservation architect has provided plans for the work.
Funding for the restoration of Town Hall has been pledged with a grant from the Rheinstrom Hill Community Foundation, and contributions from the Town of Hillsdale, and Historic Hillsdale. The town is applying for a grant from the State Environmental Defense Fund to cover some of the costs for the project, which will begin in 2013. Additonal funding will be raised from local sources.
The following funds have been raised:
- $35,000 from the Town of Hillsdale
- $15,000 from Rhinestrom Hill Community Foundation
- $5,000 from Historic Hillsdale
Hillsdale’s preservation efforts have raised the consciousness of citizens in and out of the designated historic area to the importance of maintaining the character of the town. Pride in their homes and commercial buildings and tax credits for repairs will make a difference as Hillsdale moves into year 2014.
The State Office of Historic Preservation was instrumental in approving the application to be a Historic District. Funds and technical support were received from the Preservation League of New York State, J.M. Kaplan Fund, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Berkshire Taconic Foundation, and through the fundraising efforts of Historic Hudson. Larson and Fisher Associates conducted the survey that led to the Historic District designation. Three house tours were held by Historic Hillsdale to raise funds for these efforts. This year other fund raising events are planned including a Hootenanny (folk song festival) on October 20, 2012.
The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation, which is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources. Properties listed in the Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.