Staff delicately salvage 200-year-old relics following ceiling collapse at Boscobel House

Boscobel changed hands many times, beginning in the late 1800s. The house then sat vacant well into the 1900s. It was acquired by the U.S. Veterans Administration in the 1940s.

Ben Nandy

Apr 29, 2024, 10:22 PM

Updated 18 days ago

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Experts from around the country are descending on a 200-year-old mansion-turned-museum in Garrison to help restore pieces of history that were damaged when the plaster ceiling fell in the library.
Boscobel House and Garden executive director Jennifer Carlquist took News 12 on a tour around the home and up to the library, where the ceiling collapsed.
"It's an expense no museum plans for," she said.
Carlquist said that no one was at the house when the ceiling fell and no one was hurt.
The big mess remains though, as staff carefully extract pieces of broken, early 1800s historical items from underneath the rubble and mark spots where something valuable is still stuck.
Carlquist said contractors informed her it was likely a "freak failure" that brought down the ceiling.
The entire house - the main draw of the riverfront property for heritage tourists - remains closed to the public until all of its ceilings are inspected.
The process could take months, Carlquist said.
A gallery on the ground floor has been roped off.
Boscobel staff is using it to carefully store the broken items on tables and in boxes until experts examine them and determine whether they can be restored.
The items included the library chandelier in about 50 pieces and rare chairs from 1815 with local landscapes painted on them.
"We're really eager to find as many fragments as we can," Carlquist said, "and get the right team in order to put them back into fighting form."
The property was first the Montrose dream home of States and Elizabeth Dyckman, loyalists to the British during the American Revolution, finished in 1808, two years after States' death.
Boscobel changed hands many times, beginning in the late 1800s. The house then sat vacant well into the 1900s.
It was acquired by the U.S. Veterans Administration in the 1940s.
Once the hospital was built out, the house was slated for demolition.
Even after the Boscobel was partly torn down, a community group was permitted to transport the pieces to Garrison where they rebuilt it.
The house and grounds – but the house particularly – have become magnets for heritage tourists.
Sean Randolph was visiting Boscobel Monday from California.
"We're of course disappointed that the roof fell in – for everybody not to see the inside," he said, "but the grounds are spectacular, so we're glad we're here."
Carlquist said that even though the building is insured, there are likely going to be other costs left for the nonprofit museum to cover, and wants tourists to keep coming.
Outdoor programs and tours are being expanded for visitors who have already scheduled visits to the currently closed house.
"Boscobel isn't saved because the museum wants to self-perpetuate," Carlquist said, referencing the history of Boscobel's ups and downs. "It's because community members have never let it go, have never let it die and never let it go into the landfill. They keep fighting for it, and we need them to do that now."


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