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Ambler Seeks Wilton Funds To Restore Farmhouse

WILTON, Conn. – Leaders of the Friends of Ambler Farm are seeking $500,000 from the town to help restore the historic Raymond Ambler House that was occupied by the family for more than 160 years.

The nonprofit Ambler Farm's Board of Directors will request $250,000 from the town’s capital improvements fund for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and another $250,000 for the following year from money already earmarked for the project, said board president Neil Gluckin.

The group will officially make a request for the funding at Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting at 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall. 

“This is a very good time in the property’s history to move forward with this project, and we will urge the selectmen to understand that the community places a very high value on completing this project and return to Wilton a long-term investment that will far exceed the amount the town will invest in it,” Gluckin said.

The $500,000 would go “a very long way” in helping to complete the overall $1.9 million project, Gluckin said. The project is designed to renovate and open the house to the public for historic tours, educational programs and community events.

Originally believed to have been built in 1799, the white farmhouse was constructed in 1830 and was occupied by members of the Ambler family until Betty Ambler’s death in 1998.

The house, located at 257 Hurlbutt Street, had deteriorated significantly over the last few decades. But when the town obtained the 22-acre property in 1999, the Friends of Ambler Farm was established to operate it as a working farm and to renovate the farmhouse and other buildings to present ongoing educational programs and fun events relating to life on the farm.

“The house will become the cornerstone for representing farm life over the last two centuries and is key to accomplishing the mission set out by the deed of sale to the town – to make this entire property a living example of farm life in Wilton from 1800 to 2000,” Gluckin said.

About $600,000 in renovations have already been done to stabilize the house’s foundation, he said, but there’s a lot more work to do. Exploration of the farmhouse has led to discovery of several old shoes and pieces of clothing under the attic's floorboards. In addition, there are signatures from various carpenters who worked on the house.

“We want to move ahead now so that by 2014 we can put some of the house’s furnishings like chairs, tables and kitchen cabinets back in and to create a hearth kitchen to help depict what life was like in the house and on the farm during the 18th and 19th centuries,” said Gluckin.

Extensive renovations were completed in 2006 at the red Carriage Barn, which was built in 1880 and is used for education programs. A kitchen addition also serves a range of activities and programs. Community organizations can rent the Barn.

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