Millbrook gazebo’s Friends offer update

MILLBROOK — It’s winter, and most people have on their minds things such as weather, holidays, and flu season, and are not thinking about summery items like planting gardens, hiking or gazebos. But Ashley Lempka and the Friends of the Gazebo never have its preservation far from their thoughts, and provided an update last week.

She sent a reminder that the gazebo in question, by the Elm Drive School off Maple Avenue, is more than 100 years old. She added,  “It has served hot dogs at baseball games; hosted concerts for village residents; and offered a simple, shady respite for those strolling about town.”

The structure, once white and pristine, is now in serious disrepair, with orange netting announcing its hazardous state, peeling paint and other signs of neglect painfully on view.

It is thought to have been designed by prominent architect James Edward Ware, so it has historical significance as well as a romantic and local sentiment.

The Millbrook Central School District (MCSD), the legal owner of the gazebo, has stated that it cannot fund the restoration needed to restore the site to its original glory. Help is needed from the community to bring it back from the brink of demolition and to rebuild and maintain it for the generations to come.

The Friends of the Gazebo have raised almost $18,000 toward this end, but it will take about $58,000 for the restoration. The Friends are a nonprofit organization, founded for the purpose of saving the gazebo, and they have worked diligently, holding meetings, reaching out to people and working on fundraising.

In October, Lempka, with Patrick Wing, presented at the MCSD Board meeting, outlining the history of the gazebo and its significance to the community. They also discussed the effort put into fundraising and their future plans for the gazebo.

The school has offered to put the gazebo on the budget vote as a bond act on Tuesday, May 16, and voters will then vote to approve or disapprove an expenditure for it.

Following that effort, a fundraising letter was sent out to over 300 Millbrook residents from Lempka and Robert McHugh, president of the Millbrook Historical Society. “Dollar-by-dollar, we know the spirit of Millbrook will shine through and the gazebo will once again become a living piece of our history,” said the letter. It brought in about $1,000. Plans are being made to hold a silent auction in the spring as well as other fundraising events. Those with personal photos of the gazebo may share them on Instagram and tag @friendsofthegazebo

Donations of any amount are gratefully accepted. Visit www.millbrookgazebo.com/donate to make a tax-deductible donation, or contribute to @friendsofthegazebo on PayPal or Venmo, or send a check to: Friends of the Gazebo c/o Millbrook Historical Society P.O. Box 135 Millbrook, NY 12545.

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