MILLBROOK, NY, June 28th – Mayor Rod Brown and a group of concerned local citizens today announced the formation of a Thorne Building Planning Committee tasked with developing a proposal that would transfer the Thorne Memorial Building, a dominant architectural feature of the Village, to a new non-profit corporation for use as a community center.
The members of the Thorne Building Planning Committee were appointed by the Board of the 501c3, a non-profit entity called The Thorne Building Community Center. The TBCC was funded by a grant of $100,000 from The Millbrook Tribute Garden.
The workshops were stimulated by concern among some residents about the cost to the Village of maintaining the three-story former school building (which is owned by the Village and was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996), and a desire by others to see the building renovated and put to a good community use.
The committee will be tasked with developing a plan for a) the best uses of the building for the greater Millbrook community, b) the costs of renovation to meet those uses, and c) fundraising to support the renovation and operation of the facility.
The committee includes local arts groups, businesses, educators, senior citizens, clergy, philanthropic organizations, elected officials from the Village of Millbrook, and elected officials from the Town of Washington. It will be chaired by Charles E. Pierce Jr., formerly director of the Morgan Library and Museum, in New York City, and a long-time area resident.
Members of the Planning Committee include:
It is anticipated that the effort will take approximately 6 months, at which time the committee will present its findings to the Millbrook Village Board of Trustees. At that time the board will consider whether to transfer the building to the new 501c3 for the purposes outlined in the plan or to pursue some other direction for the facility.
“Many people have good ideas about potential uses for the Thorne Building, and we are committed to conducting a very public process that will include open community meetings so that everyone’s ideas can be heard,” said Chairman Pierce.
“We also are committed to building an enduring community asset, so we will engage consultants to help us understand what the community’s needs are going to be over the next several decades and then design our programs to satisfy those needs,” he said.
Mayor Brown commended the effort, but made it clear that the Village will keep an open mind about the future use of the building.
“I applaud this effort because it would get the Thorne Building out of the Village cost structure and could create a valuable public good,” said the Mayor. “However, at the Village we will need to keep an open mind about whatever other alternatives may present themselves and then weigh the costs and benefits of each alternative.”
The Thorne Memorial Building is a three story, Beaux-Arts style, former school building that was built and donated to the Village of Millbrook by the Thorne family in 1895. It served as the Village’s public high school until 1962, served various other community uses from 1962 until the mid-1990s, and has been used sporadically for special events since that time.