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Volunteers help museum's restoration

Date: 7/14/2009

By Cory Garwacki

Staff Intern

HOLYOKE -- As part of the on-going restoration of the Wistariahurst Museum, a group of masons recently donated their time to repair bricks walls in the estate's garden.

On June 27, a group of skilled freemasons got down on their hands and knees and transformed once broken walls on the museum grounds.

"This was nothing more than a shared effort type of project, and was carried out by a total of nine men within just a one half of a days' time," Museum Director Melissa Boiselle said, adding that "visual appearance is one of the most important aspects to what we do here, especially the gardens we have here, and we hope people will realize that we have a lot to offer our visitors than just what they see when they pass by on the street."

This year marks the museum's 50th anniversary.

Wistariahurst is the former home of industrialist William Skinner who brought his silk mill to the city in the latter 19th century.

The workers had to use chisels to loosen up and extract a large amount of mortar that was encased within the entire wall.

"I can't say it enough, how wonderful the workers were to us and what a great job they did fixing up our wall. A very energetic, they transformed our grounds and we went from having a very weathered-looking, almost rubble-like wall to having a brand new beautiful looking wall. It just looks great," Boiselle told Reminder Publications.

As for the next chapter of improvements to Wistariahurst, that's a job for a painter.

According to Boiselle, "It's in bad need of a new painting. The current paint is chipping off and it just does not look very appealing from the outside. We want to be able to preserve and restore this house as best we can, and so we're hoping that we can raise the estimated $100,000 that is needed to go ahead with the painting and other exterior corrections to the house."

This effort to raise funds to paint the house is all part of the 50th anniversary of the museum and its commitment to the community to continue serving as one of the Pioneer Valley's most historic and culturally significant landmarks.

The Wistariahurst Museum is located on Cabot Street in Holyoke and is open for tours Saturday to Mondays 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information about how readers can help out with any of the projects going on at Wistariahurst or to learn more about the museum, visit