Published: August 28, 2001
Their labor of love, originally scheduled to be opened in stages over several years, has progressed so well that the house is now open in time for the 200th anniversary of Thomas Cole’s birth. The rescue and restoration of Cedar Grove, as the house is known, is a direct result of the devotion of this enthusiastic group of Catskill residents who understood the importance of Cole’s legacy to American and international art history.
Built in 1815, Cedar Grove was Thomas Cole’s home until 1848, when he died at the age of 47. Cedar Grove was the scene of many happy occasions for Cole and his family. He married Maria Bartow in the west parlor of the Federal brick house in 1836. his five children were born in the house, and Cedar Grove was home to successive generations of Cole’s until the 1960s.
A project of the Greene County Historical Society, the restoration of Cedar Grove has been managed by its Board of Governors, working in collaboration with The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development to raise money for the project. During the development process, grants were received from the New York State Council on the Arts, the Hudson River Improvement Fund, and Benjamin Moore Paints.
These contributions and others have enabled the “Friends of the Restoration” to replace original walkways, gardens and drives; install a new site entrance orienting visitors to enter to the rear of the Main House; and clear trees to create a view of the Catskill Mountains not unlike the one Thomas Cole enjoyed. All this is in addition to the restoration and decoration of the interior of the house, including an exhibit of the Cole family’s original artifacts and belongings.
A number of significant objects have been added to the Cole artifacts and arts works already in the possession of the Society this year. They include many rdf_Descriptions given by Editor Cole Silverstein, Thomas Cole’s great-granddaughter, who has been most supportive of the project. Rare family possessions have been made available, including the long-term loan of two Cole paintings which are exhibited at Cedar Grove.
The proximity of the Cole burial plots in the cemetery near Cedar Grove makes the site all the more significant to Cole scholars. Monuments and tombstones, including those of Thomas Cole and his family, have been restored and it is the intention of the Cole heirs to transfer title to three of these plots to the Green County Historical Society.
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