A year ago yesterday, there was a very good chance that The Sherburne Inn, the century-old landmark located in the heart of Sherburne's downtown historic district, would be torn down and replaced by a convenience store and gas station. Twenty-four hours later -- a year ago today -- Save The Sherburne Inn Restoration Project signed a purchase agreement to buy the building.
It's been quite a year.
In just 12 months, SSIRP has:
- confirmed that The Sherburne Inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places;
- incorporated as a nonprofit, and received nonprofit status, thereby allowing individuals and corporations tax deductible contributions to saving The Inn;
- formed a nine-member volunteer board of directors;
- secured legal and financial counsel;
- raised $165,000 to buy The Inn, purchase of which was finalized on April 25;
- launched a community fundraising campaign that raised more than $25,000;
- launched a website (thesherburneinn.org) and a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/SaveTheSherburneInnRestorationProject);
- applied for, and received, a $50,000 grant from the Howard K. Finch Memorial Fund;
- applied for other grants, both local and state, results of which are pending;
- received dozens of letters of support from local, regional, and state politicians, from area business leaders, and from individuals in the community;
- met with Senator James Seward, who toured the building and commended our vision and our progress;
- been recognized by The National Trust for Historic Preservation on its blog, Preservation Nation http://blog.preservationnation.org/2013/04/10/the-sherburne-inn-how-one-community-is-keeping-a-local-landmark-alive/; The National Trust intends to follow our progress, possibly in the nationally distributed publication, Preservation, going forward. The National Trust also advised that SSIRP is doing what The Trust encourages all citizens to do when historic treasures are threatened -- that is, rise up and take action;
- presented its vision to area businesses, service organizations, and village and town representatives;
- produced a video about the project, with the help of the Chenango County Chamber of Commerce and Krazed Kat Media;
- launched an Indiegogo Internet fundraising campaign http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/save-the-sherburne-inn-restoration-project/x/3945800; (the campaign ends today);
- been featured on Mohawk Valley Living http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7RNi3k7QB0&feature=youtu.be&t=11m27s
SSIRP also has a sister organization, The INNsiders, which is collecting oral and written history about The Inn, with plans to publish. If you have a special memory about The Inn and would like to have it included with other INNsider memories, please visit our website and share your story.
These are the highlights of the last year, and we hope to have some exciting announcements in the coming months with regard to fundraising, professional consultants, and potential affiliations. As I've said to many people, SSIRP may have appeared quiet; but we've been very busy behind the scenes building a solid foundation for this project. It is a step-by-step process, and the correct steps take time.
Small towns are wonderful in many ways. In other ways, however, they are...challenging. Unfounded rumors tend to circulate, and diner talk is bountiful. SSIRP board members have elected to ignore most of the rumors because, quite frankly, we're just too busy to worry about them. However, there is one rumor that requires clarification, so allow me to put it to rest once and for all: no matter what you may have heard, SSIRP is paying taxes on the building. Taxes are part of our operating budget, as are costs for insurance and utilities. Bear in mind as well that grant funding cannot be used for operating costs, making donations from businesses and individuals vital to keeping this train on the track.
To all of you who have supported us over the last year financially, as volunteers, and as our "cheerleaders," thank you! And to those who are still on the fence about our bringing back The Sherburne Inn, we hope to change your minds as work on the building begins, and the next year rolls out.
Sherburne is a wonderful community, and this is a wonderful community project. It's been a long, sometimes hard, and frequently remarkable year. We feel the best is yet to come.