Montgomery County

Christmas wreath auction to raise funds for Old Fort Johnson repairs

Business owners and residents will begin decorating historic Amsterdam City Hall today to prepare fo

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Business owners and residents will begin decorating historic Amsterdam City Hall today to prepare for a silent auction aimed at helping Old Fort Johnson on its continued recovery from last year’s flooding.

The Montgomery County Historical Society’s 2011 season was stunted by major flooding that forced cancellation of the annual holiday event held at the Fort Johnson home Sir William Johnson built in 1749.

Not content to miss the holidays, historians and volunteers late last year created the Deck the Doors at Amsterdam City Hall, putting dozens of homemade wreaths on all the doors on the historic Church Street mansion that serves as the seat of the city government.

It was a successful event worthy of another try this year, Old Fort Johnson manager Alessa Wylie said.

The silent auction at City Hall brought in about $3,000 toward efforts to clean up the site, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

To date, the Montgomery County Historical Society has raised nearly $58,000 toward its recovery, including a $10,000 grant from American Express.

But just drying out the 263-year-old building cost $70,000, Wylie said.

“We’re slowly getting there. We still have a ways to go,” she said of recovery.

Today’s decorating is taking place in anticipation of events this weekend that will fill City Hall with holiday cheer and music.

City Hall will be opened Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for viewing and bidding and a focus on the city’s history from local historian Bob Cudmore.

The Amsterdam High School Select Chorus will perform at 2 p.m. Saturday and holiday carols will be featured by Rachelle Cotugno at 1 p.m. Sunday.

The weekend will also feature a market filled with locally produced items including goat milk soap from Love Knot Farm, beeswax ornaments, local honey and other stocking stuffers.

Bidding on the wreaths will continue on days City Hall is open through Dec. 1, when the event concludes at 3 p.m. and successful bidders will get to take their wreaths home.

Volunteers from Historic Amsterdam League will be providing tours of the historic mansion donated to the city in 1932 by John Sanford, whose father ran busy carpet mills that helped launch the city into its industrial heyday.

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