CATSKILL, N.Y. (NEWS10) — At the foot of the Catskills lays a house that’s over 200-years-old, but the people who work there say they are still finding new surprises every day.
A passion for the past is in Elizabeth Jack’s DNA.
“My great uncle was the historian of New York State, so I have a little history,” Executive Director at Thomas Cole Historic Site Elizabeth Jacks said.
After over a decade of working here at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, she thought she had seen it all.
“We were interested in restoring these rooms to the way it looked when Thomas Cole lived here,” Jacks said.
So, they hired a painter to help.
“But what he found was really extraordinary,” Jacks said.
Behind layers of paint and wallpaper, there was original art work done by Cole himself, dating all the way back in the 1800s. Jacks says it’s an amazing glimpse back in time.
“Thomas Cole invented a new way of looking at this country and a new way of looking at this landscape and founded what is really the first major American art movement,” Jacks said.
“This is a national treasure,” Jacks said. “This beauty is something that this country has and no one else has.”
Last summer, after the paintings were discovered, they called on Senator Chuck Schumer for help. He secured $600,000 in federal grants to preserve these paintings.
“I was really honored and proud actually to deliver the federal funding to make this recovery and restoration possible,” Schumer said.
Flash forward to now, and he’s back with even more good news.
“I’m going to put all my muscle into securing an additional $500,000 in funds for the Thomas Cole Historic Site,” Schumer said.
He says it’s an investment well worth it.
“Those dollars and that money will come back to Greene County and this whole Hudson Valley ten times over,” Schumer explained. “It not only increases our beauty and our appreciation of our wonderful history, but it’s an economic driver as well.”
Jacks can’t wait for what secrets they might uncover next.
“We are going to be infusing these rooms without interactive exhibits,” Jacks said. “So it’s kind of an unusual combination of the historic restoration with high tech exhibits.”
It might be weird to think about now, but years ago Cole probably sat right on this porch, drawing inspiration from scenes like this for his paintings that still bring joy to people to this very day.