NORTH BENNINGTON -- The Park-McCullough House, 1 Park St., has opened its doors for tours and released its calendar of events for the summer.
The house was awarded a historic preservation grant and a barn preservation grant from the state to help maintain the 150-year-old property as a historical landmark. Throughout the ongoing renovations, the house will be continuing is normal summer operations.
The house will be carrying out over $40,000 in repairs this year: Continuing the repairs to the slate roof, painting the east side exterior and replacing the gutters, downspouts and underground stormwater drainage system. The Vermont Department of Historic Preservation has issued the house a match grant to reimburse $20,000 for the repairs.
Allen McCullough, a board member and a descendant of the family that built the historic mansion, will oversee the renovations that his wife, Randolyn Zinn, worked to allocate funds for by writing the grant proposal. "We are lucky enough to have this grant," McCullough said. "My wife spent several weeks writing it. This organization doesn't have a lot of money, but we were able to secure the maximum amount they could award."
In addition, the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development has awarded a barn preservation match grant to the Park-McCullough House up to $15,000 to restore the Hall Farm Corn Crib. The Hall Farm was once part of a 700-acre dairy farm on the estate.
Angus McCullough, a volunteer, will be carrying out the restoration of the corn crib over the summer. He will incorporate the crib into the mile-long trail circling the estate to make the walk around the grounds more historically engaging and informative for visitors. He announced a public meeting at the Left Bank, 5 Bank St., on Saturday, June 14, at 4 p.m. regarding his plans.
House tours are open for the summer on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Special tours can be arranged on other days by calling (802) 442-5441. After new work on the trail and corn crib, the staff hopes to incorporate a walk around the estate with the historical house tour.
"These grounds are so historically interesting," said house volunteer and musician Sandra Mangsen. "The family occupied this house for 100 years. There are not many historical markers that were occupied for that long."
Bennington College professor Eileen Scully and librarian Oceania Wilson have been working with the Park-McCullough House to start offering a course in public history examining Bennington's history at the college for the fall semester.
The house is continuing its concert series this year at the carriage barn, starting on July 13 with a piano trio. The Living Room Theatre will return for the second year on July 31 with Anton Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard," produced by Zinn and Allen McCullough.
Mangsen said since the house is old and expensive to maintain, the Park-McCullough House looks to obtain nonprofit funds as a historical site. She noted that the house serves as a historical, artistic and cultural center point in the community. The staffed volunteers also secure money from tours, weddings and other events to maintain the estate, in addition to financial help from the "Fund for North Bennington."
"There are two sides to this operation profit and nonprofit. The play and concert series fall somewhere in between," Mangsen said.
Contact Tom Momberg at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg