Saugerties, NY (Vocus) September 20, 2009
A Revolutionary War-era house known as "The Homestead" is the newest "rescue" by Catskill Animal Sanctuary, a haven for twelve species of farm animals located in New York's State's Hudson Valley. The home, purchased for $262,000, will be used for seminars, cooking classes, and overnight housing for guests, volunteers, and interns. The Sanctuary is currently seeking funding for what board member Chris Seeholzer calls "top to bottom" renovations.
The brick house has a fascinating history. In 1728, the land on which it sits was deeded to Peter Winne. Nearly fifty years later, in 1775, Mr. Winne was one of the signers of the Articles of Association, the document that declared war on the British. In 1777, the house was hit by a cannonball. In the 1800's, "The Homestead" was a popular boarding house and, according to local legend, a stagecoach stop.
The Sanctuary, which opened in 2003, spent its first six years transforming a long-neglected property into one of the country's leading havens for farmed animals. That haven is now comprised of six barns, twenty-two additional shelters, fourteen pastures, two ponds, staff housing, and the infrastructure required to support "as many animals as we can care well for," according to Sanctuary Director Kathy Stevens (Current residents include 32 horses, 20 cows, 42 goats and sheep, 15 pigs, and scores of smaller animals. More will arrive from a nine page emergency waiting list once new barn construction is completed.) All projects have sought to minimize the footprint of the bustling operation--for instance, 100% of the Sanctuary's electric usage is derived from the 100 solar panels atop the roof of the main barn.
But with farm construction nearly completed and the rescue part of its mission in full swing, CAS was anxious to turn to the second part of its mission: raising public awareness of institutionalized cruelty, particularly factory farming, and its impact on animals, humans, and planet Earth. When the asking price on the old farm house, located at the entrance of the Sanctuary, dropped by over $100,000, the Board of Directors knew it was time to act. "We've long needed a space for lectures, films, and vegan cooking classes, as well as a place for overnight guests to stay," Seeholzer explains. "This house gives us ample teaching space downstairs, and six bedrooms upstairs for people wanting a working vacation…or just an overnight in a joyous, idyllic setting."
Plenty of dreaming and planning, plus the requisite zoning approvals, must occur before the full transformation of The Homestead can begin. But in the meantime, immediate plans are to replace the roof structure and what the home inspector called "dangerously outdated" heating and electrical systems.
The house, located on Old Stage Road, was originally part of the property now known as Catskill Animal Sanctuary. But when the farm's previous owners dissolved their partnership, the house and some road frontage were separated.
The story of the transformation of a forgotten, forlorn property--and of the animals who came to live there--is told in Stevens' book Where the Blind Horse Sings: Love and Healing at an Animal Sanctuary, scheduled for release on September 29 and currently available on Amazon.com.