He also wove a rug used in the restored kitchen and instructed other volunteers in the operation of the loom.
Written by Willard Dittmar and incorporating photos by Charles Parrish, the first brochure was published with funds donated by Marjorie Bellinger. A donation by the THS Class of 1931 was used to purchase a quilt rack on which quilts made by Christiana Long Smith for her Hathaway granddaughters are still displayed today.
That June, the first of many Society picnics was held on the Homestead grounds. Members brought a dish to pass, cutlery, beverage, and lawn chairs. The Society provided dessert. The last such function was held in 1998.
The First Annual Society Flea Market was held on the grounds on August 29, 1982. The Society sold white elephants, used books, craft work and baked goods and operated a concession stand featuring hot dogs, birch beer and popcorn. The event continued on the grounds, incorporated into Canal Fest activities, until 1999 when planned renovations to the surrounding grounds forced cancellation. Subsequent markets have been held in Clinton Park.
During the winter of 1982, bricklayer Gordon Feldt, assisted by Clay Osgood, repaired and replaced bricks in two of the fireplace hearths.
Mrs. Long’s Teas were held April 29, 1984, establishing a continuing tradition of such events. Teas were arranged by Rose Marohn, Karen Koch and Bev Weslowski in 2014 and 2015, while similar events were organized by Jill Townson and friends in 2018 and 2019.
Through the years, themed displays of Society artifacts were mounted for the Homestead season. Louise Balling’s display of antique dolls in 1988, Marilyn Soemann’s exhibit of Paul and Diane Kraus’ antique toys in 2003 and items from the Society’s uniform collection in 2004 are but a few examples.
The Garden Club of the Tonawandas did their first Christmas display in 1995, establishing an annual tradition which continues today. In 1997, the Club planted geraniums and marigolds in front of the building and began planning an herb and perennial garden for the area near the rear door. The garden was completed in 2000.
In 2001, the Garden Club received a national first place honor, the May Duffy Walters Trophy for Preservation and Beauty, in recognition of the project. Today, the garden has been restored by and is lovingly tended by Society member Colleen Erick. It is one of the loveliest spots in the City.
Through the years, descendants of the Longs have visited the Homestead, frequently bringing treasures to add to the Society’s collection. Among other things, the Smith family contributed the dining room sideboard, a sleigh bed, and several tables attributed to Christiana. Descendants of Almira Long Rand, the youngest child, brought a letter to her from her brother, Benjamin H. Long , a mirror owned by Almira and now gracing the dining room and, most recently, the original dining room table brought by Benjamin and Mary from their Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, home.
In 2016, Homestead docent, weaver, and Society volunteer, Dianne Pielecha, undertook the painstaking task of archiving and photographing every artifact in the ten room house, a project finally completed in 2019.
The story of the Society’s continuing stewardship is far too complex to be told in 1500 words. The restoration and continuing operation of the Homestead has been accomplished by people from every facet of Twin Cities life. It is a shining example of what members of a community can accomplish when all work together for a common goal.
This sampling of the contributions and contributors previews the contents of a future publication marking this 40-year milestone. It is ironic that the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily called a halt to tours and gatherings on the grounds. Rest assured, however, the maintenance and improvement of the site continue. New curtains are being made, doors have been repaired, and plans to install hot water to the lavatories are being implemented and the modern kitchen updated. When the new normal is established, this historic treasure will be ready to accept and delight visitors and continue the Society’s proud tradition of stewardship.
We would like to sincerely thank Carole Barnard for sharing this short history of the Benjamin Long Homestead and for selecting the photos and writing the captions for this month’s special commemorative edition of the ROTO. As Head Docent, Carole has been the “caretaker” of the house since 2003.