The Thomas Cole National Historic Site, located in the village of Catskill, Greene County, has broken ground on a new visitor center.
The new 1,800 square foot visitor center, to be named The Cole Center, will serve as a multi-purpose open concept space designed to improve visitor experience. It will include a gift shop, a café, and a public patio, and will host visitor orientation, events and creative activities.
The Cole Center will incorporate high-efficiency heating and cooling pumps, with electricity sourced from regional solar. This project is being supported by a $360,000 Empire State Development capital grant recommended by the Capital Regional Economic Development Council.
The project is expected to provide improvements and upgrades necessary to accommodate higher visitation, increase efficiencies and visitor safety, and improve climate conditions for historic preservation. The project also supports neighboring tourism assets including the Hudson River Skywalk and Olana State Historic Site. Over the twelve rounds of the Regional Economic Development Council Awards, New York State has awarded more than $1.8 million to support the Thomas Cole National Historic Site.
The new Cole Center was designed pro bono by Stephen Shadley, a New York City-based architectural designer who is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. The Cole Center is the first cultural building that Shadley has designed. It puts the natural setting and historic campus in the foreground of the new structure, which opens onto a new outdoor public patio through an expanse of 18-foot-high windows.
Those windows embrace and reflect the dramatic view of the Catskill Mountains, and the Cole Center’s forest-green exterior allows it to recede into the landscape. The exterior design references and draws inspiration from Thomas Cole’s own 19th-century architectural designs, one of which – his 1846 New Studio – was previously reconstructed and is part of the historic campus now framed by the new building. The historic campus consists of the 1815 Main House, the 1839 Old Studio, the reconstructed 1846 New Studio, and the gardens and grounds against the backdrop of the Catskill Mountains.
Additional significant support for the project is provided by the National Park Service, The Bay & Paul Foundations, Hudson River Valley Greenway, Nina Matis & Alan Gosule, Brown Foundation, Evelyn Trebilcock & Douglas Hammond, Christopher Buck & Dr. Hara Schwartz, Anne Miller & Stuart Breslow, the Warner Foundation, The Educational Foundation of America, Robert Miller & Kathy Klingenstein, The J. M. Kaplan Fund, Lisa Fox Martin, Kristin Gamble, Jimmy & Micaela Bulich, Alison Lankenau, Carolyn B. MacDonald, Betsy & Al Scott, Stainman Family Foundation, and many other generous individuals and foundations.
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Photo of Cole Center groundbreaking provided.