SOURCE: The Trustees of Reservations

July 31, 2006 08:00 ET

Congress Funds Restoration of the William Cullen Bryant Homestead, a Massachusetts Historic Treasure

CUMMINGTON, MA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- July 31, 2006 -- The Trustees of Reservations, a member-supported nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to protecting special places throughout Massachusetts, announces that the U.S. House of Representatives has included $150,000 in the Department of the Interior's budget for the restoration and conservation of the historic William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington.

The Trustees' landmark appropriation will partially fund a broad interior/exterior restoration effort of this famous 19th-century poet's home, noted for its architecture, interiors, and archival collections. Other funding comes from the organization's membership and board support, as well as monies raised through the Bryant Homestead's Properties Committee.

Original wallpaper, selected furniture, and books will be restored in Bryant's study, along with original wallpaper and window treatments in the bedroom, dining room, and caretaker's sitting room. The long-deteriorating windows and exterior shutters will be stabilized, and the house will be repainted in historically documented colors.

Externally, the project will include sill repair to the 19th-century rural New England barn, as well as some restoration to the dairy, rendering the structure safe for public access. Through this work, the William Cullen Bryant Homestead will be able to provide a new exhibition on hill-town agriculture.

"The Bryant Homestead should be a cultural and educational hub for the communities of Western Massachusetts. We are fortunate to have historic treasures like this, and I am pleased that my colleagues in Congress have joined me in recognizing that it is our public responsibility to protect them," said Congressman John Olver (D-1st/MA).

The William Cullen Bryant Homestead is a National Historic Landmark, and includes 195 acres, the Homestead, and the barn. The farm was the childhood home and adult summer residence of famous 19th-century poet William Cullen Bryant, a moving force in American history. Bryant was the editor and publisher of the New York Evening Post for more than 50 years, was an avid abolitionist and public supporter of Abraham Lincoln, proposed the establishment of New York City's Central Park, and was instrumental in the land conservation movement. In addition to Bryant's own legacy, his Homestead serves as an educational resource to organizations, adults, and children in the Highland Region, including the surrounding Berkshire, Hampshire, and Franklin counties. The site welcomes more than 7,000 visitors each year, strengthening Cummington's economy and enhancing the town's cultural heritage.

"Congressman John Olver understands the importance of conservation and historic preservation to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts," said Andy Kendall, President of the Trustees of Reservations. "His leadership in the effort to restore this landmark property will help ensure that future generations will be able to experience the rich history of the Berkshire region. I look forward to seeing the William Cullen Bryant Homestead restored to its original condition, allowing us to attract visitors to this historically unique site."

The Department of Interior's budget must be considered by the U.S. Senate before it is signed into law.

About the Trustees of Reservations

Founded in 1891, The Trustees of Reservations preserves, for public use and enjoyment, properties of exceptional scenic, historic, and ecological value in Massachusetts. The Trustees of Reservations, a member-supported nonprofit conservation organization, works to protect special places across the state, and educates the public about natural and historic resources and their conservation and stewardship. For more information, visit www.thetrustees.org.

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