|Glowing Embers Mark The End Of An Era: Photo by W.Hill|
|Gilbert House And Worker's Vehicle: Photo by W.Hill|
|Gilbert House-Facing Dewey Road: Photo by W.Hill|
|Early Stages Of Burning: Photo by W.Hill|
|Photo by W.Hill|
|Water Was Pumped From Nearby Ponds: Photo by W.Hill|
|Photo by W.Hill|
Here it is in its' entirety:
Hi, Willard - I found photos of the Gilbert farm on a blog page and wanted to make a comment.
|The Gilbert House In Winter: Photo courtesy of Kathy Myers|
I formed a 501(c)(3) non profit corporation, Winslow House Heritage Council, in order to save it. The state asked us for a feasibility study and gave us a $22,000 grant to conduct same. It was done by a local architectural firm. The results were that in order to meet current code (we wanted to operate it as a B&B and museum/shop) we would take the house down, salvage parts, and rebuild it elsewhere on Winslow Hill over its original footprint, only larger.
As you are aware, prices have skyrocketed on Winslow Hill. We were initially offered the remaining one acre parcel that was attached to St. Cecelia's Cemetery which is surrounded by the visitor center property; however, Rawley Cogan and RMEF arranged a land swap with St. Joseph's Church, the group that oversees the cemetery, and the priest who offered us the land and was a member of our board, was actually somewhat dismayed at the plans in progress to build the visitor center. For that reason, we lost our opportunity to get that land.
We tried to establish a heritage shop, for which we were given a grant, but there was nothing available for us on Winslow Hill or in the town of Benezette. We attempted to purchase the Don Wood property, but USDA thought we would have a hard time making a go of it "selling souvenirs" on Winslow Hill.
Possibly if the Game Commission had just given us the house with a little land around it as we first requested, we would have something going today. My letters to the Governor, where I asked him to override the Game Commission and just give us the house, went unanswered even though we had received two grants from the Commonwealth.
While Mr. Cogan wants to preserve Winslow Hill, I am concerned that the history of the early pioneers will be lost. When RMEF had its initial study done shortly after it purchased Elk Mountain Homestead, I was asked to meet with Rawley Cogan and the person who was conducting the study for RMEF. As a matter of fact, RMEF suggested our two organizations work together which never happened.
I attended a meeting at Game Commission Headquarters in Harrisburg in August of 2007 that was arranged by Senator Joseph Scarnati's office. In attendance was Dennis Duzia, PGC, Meredith Hill of DCNR, a representative from PA Historic and Museum Commission, the Senator's aide, Casey Long, and my husband and I. I was shocked at our treatment. Mr. Duzia was adamant that there would be no further extensions on our efforts to save the house. His words to my husband and I were that not many people were interested in the project "other than you people", and that they were going to take a "big D9 dozer in there and bulldoze it over and it won't be a pretty sight." DCNR and PHMC could offer no assistance, even though the house was listed as endangered by the PA Preservation group. In January, 2008, I contacted Carl Roe, PGC Director, about Mr. Duzia's comments. Mr. Roe did say that as long as the house was standing, if Winslow House Heritage Council could present him with a plan and timetable for moving it off the property, we would still have that opportunity. And he noted that Mr. Duzia would not be taking down the house without notifying us.
When RMEF pulled out of the visitor center and it was turned over briefly to another state agency, I contacted that agency and asked that Winslow House Heritage Council be given space in the visitor center to operate a heritage shop, noting that I had many good ideas for such a shop. I also discussed my concerns for the lack of information about the early pioneers, etc., which I feel should be presented for those traveling to this area. I was asked to list what I thought should be part of an educational display which I did. But then the management of the center was turned over to the Elk Country Alliance people and that was the end of the dialogue.
There is more to Benezette than the elk.
I wish to thank Mrs. Myers for sharing this information with us and I hope to discuss some of the issues involved with this type of situation in a future post.
Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill