DALTON -- A $180,000 state grant will soon help fund a historical renovation of the town’s monument to the Underground Railroad -- the Fitch-Hoose House.
Built by cotton manufacturer William H. Bogart in 1846, the single-family home long served as a shelter for freed or escaped African Americans, after Henry Fitch, an African American himself and Connecticut native, purchased the structure in 1848.
Charles Hoose later bought the house and property from farmer John Curtis. The Hoose family occupied the house for three generations.
Dalton’s Historical Commission has long sought to undertake such a project. Following a familiar script, the money was never there.
"It’s quite a building with quite a story," Commission Chairman George White said. "We’ve worked so hard writing grants over the years and to finally have one come through is great news."
Dalton Select Board Chairman John Boyle Jr. called the grant "financially a big boost" for the town and said a historically accurate spin on the famous house might spur extra traffic from outsiders.
"People look for historical institutions in the Berkshires, and this will be a good one to come see," Boyle said. "The labored for years in obscurity to bring in these dollars and this was always the dream."
In preparation for the eventual renovation over the years, the deeds of the property were sorted out and separated properly, and a non-original wing that had been added to the structure was torn down.
The work remaining, what the grant will likely go toward, is the repointing of some of the stone masonry, removal of aluminum siding, replacement of existing windows with correct era-looking ones and the inclusion of period-style aesthetics.
Much of the home remains original, including the wood frame, principally made of timber, and secondary components. It is located at 6 Gulf Road.
White said the work still must be put out to bid.
To draw attention to the news, state Rep. Paul W. Mark plans to hold a dedication at the house Aug. 8. A starting time for the event has yet to be set.
The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in April 2010.
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