In less than five months, individual donations have helped Branford Historical Society (BHS) match more than half of a $35,000 matching grant given by Branford Community Foundation (BCF) to help save Harrison House, built in 1724.
To celebrate, the BCF board recently presented BHS board members with a check for $17,500 on Oct. 26. BCF will continue to double every dollar donated until the entire $35,000 grant is matched.
The BCF grant was announced in June and helped spread the word about non-profit BHS’s effort to raise a total of $225,000 by the end of 2016. The society needs $132,000 to purchase the property and additional money to help establish a building maintenance fund.
Located at 124 Main Street, the iconic red Colonial Harrison House been leased by BHS since 1974 and serves as Branford’s only historic house museum. BHS was charged $1 per year to lease the house from non-profit Historic New England (HNE). In the summer of 2014, HNE listed Harrison House among its properties to be liquidated, and BHS began fundraising to save the 290 year-old building.
BHS president Virginia “Ginny” Page said the BCF challenge grant has helped the society to quickly raise awareness as well as funding for the cause.
“We’ve reached half the goal of the matching grant and now we’re gearing up for the other half,” said Page. “We’ve come very far in just five months and we’re hoping that it will continue in the coming months. This is the time of year when people can make a donation and take a tax deduction, so we’re hoping they’ll think of Harrison House. It’s a win-win situation for a lot of people.”
Additional donations received this summer, including $10,000 received from Branford Rotary, are helping BHS close in on raising the $132,000 needed to buy the property, said Page.
“We’re more than halfway home with the purchase of the house,” said Page. “We’ve gotten other donations along the way, from our members, from community members, from Branford Rotary and the Summer Hill Foundation in Madison. The full campaign is to raise $225,000; but the focus is getting to the purchase price of the house, first.”
BHS needs to complete the purchase of the home by December 2016. Community members can help close the deal by making a donation of any amount.
“I would love to have everything by the end of the end this year, and you never know what’s going to happen, but we have realistic goals, and we still have to end of 2016 to come up with it,” said Page. “So far, I think we’ve done pretty well. The community has taken such an interest. It’s a great feeling “
BHS invites the community to enjoy its annual Open House Christmas Party Dec. 6, 1 – 3 p.m. at Harrison House Museum, with refreshments, entertainment, decorations, house and barn tours and exhibits on view.
“It’s always a great event, but this year it’s really something to be excited about, because so many more people have become aware of Harrison House,” said Page. “We want to share it with everyone that made a contribution or wants to see it.”
The Branford Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Tax-deductible donations to help save the Harrison House may be made online at www.branfordhistoricalsociety.org ;or by check to BHS, P.O. Box 504 Branford, CT 06405.