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Mennonite Heritage Farm continues renovations

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KIRSCHNERVILLE — Supporters have raised $20,000 for renovations at the Adirondack Mennonite Heritage Farm, but the Adirondack Mennonite Heritage Association is seeking an additional $15,000 for improvements to the homestead.

“We want to start working on the foundation of the granary,” said AMHA president Bernadine Schwartzentruber. “When they had animals in there, the heat from the animals kept the building warm, and now that it’s unoccupied the thaw has destroyed that.”

The Mennonite Heritage Farm was a three-generation Mennonite family home until the late 1980s. The facility is used often for school tours and home to the popular Zwanzigstein “Z” Fest in July. This year, 486 people attended the event.

Several stones once holding the granary’s foundation together now gather at the barn’s sides. The building’s left side rests roughly two feet from a garage where rainwater has dripped down and caused further freeze/thaw damage. Wood planks have been propped between the two buildings to keep the stones from jutting out. In order to make adequate repairs that would keep the issue from returning, mason Kenneth R. Good would have to do work below the frost level.

“Roof runoff will be diverted and better drainage in surrounding soil will be put in place,” said Ms. Schwartzentruber of additional plans to prevent future issues.

Currently the lower level is only visible through windows and the upper level’s ground is unstable. Reconstructing the foundation will allow access to the lower level, which will in turn return to its roots and demonstrate part of what the granary was once used for.

“The interior of the lower level will be restored to show the chicken coop area with roost along the wall and the pig sty,” Ms. Schwartzentruber explained.

That portion of the restoration project, as well as work on the homestead’s water well, is expected to begin in the spring. But according to the AMHA president, the foundation will hopefully be completed this fall, before the weather gets bad.

The renovation project began near the end of July with dismantling and reconstructing the old bridges on the barn. A new culvert and drainage system were also installed this summer, bringing the cost of the completed work to $9,775. Railings for the bridge were provided on a $300 grant from the Beaver River Central School District Youth Advisory Council.

The cost to repair the granary itself is estimated at $13,500, which includes re-doing the six-foot deep foundation and repairing the damaged wall.

In a letter seeking sponsorship, Ms. Schwartzentruber said, “Debris, brush has already been removed from around the barn, sheep shed, garage and granary and used as fill for the area between the barn and road. Eventually the driveway will loop around on top of this filled-in area to make it much more convenient.

“This cleared area around the buildings will get a final grading and leveling next spring so that landscaping can proceed.”

Part of their renovation project will include repairing a water well on the site, which according to Ms. Schwartzentruber does not obtain “a dependable supply of potable water.” The well will likely be addressed in the spring with any additional renovations.

Any funds leftover following the renovations will be put towards their other goal of re-doing the siding on the barn and main house, as well as tearing down and rebuild a small barn on site.

Photos of the renovation’s progress are visible at the museum’s website, www.adirondackmennoniteheritagefarm.com.

Anyone interested in financially assisting the association may make checks payable to AMHA (memo: 2013 restoration) at Adirondack Mennonite Heritage Association c/o Donald Roggie 4491 Boshart Rd, Lowville, N.Y. 13367. Donations are tax deductible.

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