Antique beams and wide plank floors still characterize the 1730s Brouwer House in Schenectady’s old Stockade neighborhood. Now a series of studios for artists and performers have been installed in one of the city’s oldest homes, which was gifted to the Schenectady County Historical Society in 2017.
Many historical societies face the question of what to do with a historic house they’ve been generously gifted. While there are exceptions, many (most?) house museums scrape by, defer maintenance, and lack the resources or support to maintain collections and provide public interpretation.
Stephanie K. Meeks at the National Trust called them part of a “A 20th Century Paradigm.” In Old Boston, the Globe asked “Do we have too many?” Even at Traditional Building they are saying their time has past.
The Schenectady County Historical Society is engaging in on an innovative approach for a historic society, to sustainably protect an important building in the Stockade Historic District.
The Society has transformed its new property at 14 North Church Street into an arts space, Brouwer House Creative. After analyzing options for sustainable care of the 1730s home, the Society is betting on a creative space for local artists and performers. The house is filled with history and with living arts. The approach is one way community historians can help protect their historic resources.
This November 30, from 10 am to 4 pm, the artists of Brouwer House Creative will open the house to the public for a Studio Sale. Unique and specialty items will be available from the artists. All are invited to tour the property, meet the artists-in-residence and buy their wares, and learn how the Schenectady County Historical Society is changing what it means to operate a “historic house.” More information is available on the Schenectady County Historical Society website.
Photos, from above: Leah LaFera’s soap crafting space; Lost And Found Studio; and Brouwer House Creative, provided.