Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Interview with Kim Maier, Executive Director of the Old Stone House

All About Fifth caught up with Kim Maier, Executive Director of the Old Stone House, to talk about the historic site’s past and future in an exclusive two-part interview. Stay tuned for the second half next week!

AAF: Where are you from originally?

Maier: I'm originally from Dover, MA, a small town west of Boston, but I've lived in Brooklyn since 1984.

AAF: When did you start your tenure at the Old Stone House (OSH) and what is its mission?

Maier: The Old Stone House is part of the Historic House Trust of New York City - a network of historic sites located throughout the five boroughs, each with a unique mission. OSH's mission is to raise awareness of the Revolutionary War era in Brooklyn, as well as the history of the House, which was originally built by the Vechte family in 1699. We provide an opportunity for place-based education to the people of Brooklyn, as well as residents of New York City as a whole, and act as a cultural and community partner. We're working to promote a strong appreciation and enthusiasm for the role that each of us can play in our communities and our democracy.

AAF: How do you keep its historical bent in close conversation with its many modern faces?

Maier: When I began working at the House five years ago there was low-level community awareness about the history of the Old Stone House, but the park was very run-down so it wasn't a destination for many people. The OSH Board of Directors was supportive of developing programming that would attract diverse audiences and introduce people to their local history -- history that had a major impact on the development of the United States.

The Board also realized that for the House to thrive, the organization has to be an active liaison between Parks and the community. Because the Old Stone House has been on this site in one form or another since 1699, it's part of the continuum of the development of Brooklyn. This gives us an opportunity to create programming that looks to the past, the present and the future from a variety of perspectives.

AAF: With so many interesting programs, events, series… what’s in the OSH’s future?

Maier: Our goal is to continue to work with the community and Brooklyn Parks toward the complete renovation of JJ Byrne Playground and Washington Park during the next five years. In terms of programming at the House, we're focused on improving the way that we tell the story of the House's colonial, revolutionary and baseball history with active events like cooking demonstrations, a native and heritage gardening program with a strong community component, vintage baseball games, Revolutionary War encampments, and improved gallery spaces inside the House. We're also devoted to continuing to strengthen our education program, which served more than 6,000 students last year, providing professional development programming for teachers, and expanding our internship and community service opportunities. And we'll continue to offer a strong array of contemporary cultural events programming, including our visual art exhibition program upstairs at OSH.

Interview conducted by Rebeccah Welch

Stay tuned for the second half of the interview next week.

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