TOWN OF AMSTERDAM — The future of the historic Broodmare Barn will be secured through an upcoming stabilization project supported by $150,000 from Montgomery County’s federal pandemic relief aid.
The roughly 200-year-old barn on Route 30 at the intersection with Tessiero Square is one of the few remaining structures from the former Sanford Stud Farm that once spanned over 1,000 acres in the town of Amsterdam.
“The stabilization of the building is essential,” said Thomas DiMezza, supervisor of the town of Amsterdam and president of the Friends of Sanford Stud Farm, on Wednesday, “we want to make sure it lasts hopefully for centuries to come. We’re preserving history.”
The once-world renowned breeding and training facility for thoroughbred racehorses was established in the late 19th century by carpet industrialist Stephen Sanford. Saratoga Race Course still hosts the annual Sanford Stakes honoring his family’s legacy.
“To this day, there are probably still horses racing out there that have the blood of some of the Sanford horses that they raised back in the early 1900s,” DiMezza said.
The Sanford Stud Farm was made up of around 40 buildings with outdoor and indoor tracks. Most of the original structures have been torn down and replaced by commercial development.
The large Broodmare Barn and a smaller adjacent barn that housed mares and their newborn foals were acquired by the town of Amsterdam in 2006. The maintenance and preservation of the one-acre site are overseen jointly by the town and the non-profit Friends of Sanford Stud Farm.
Rehabilitation work has been performed over the years at the site listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013. But, there is more to be done to address damage to the barn’s foundation and to stabilize second floor lofts that served as a dormitory.
The Montgomery County Legislature last week authorized $150,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding for infrastructure improvements at the Broodmare Barn.
“It’s a historic landmark and it deserves attention. It’s really a piece of our history,” Legislature Chairman Michael Pepe said.
Officials have been gradually allocating the $9.56 million in federal relief aid the county received this year to address in-house needs and to support community projects. The flexibility of the swiftly delivered funds has been especially helpful for nonprofits, which can struggle to finance needed work, according to Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort.
“Often when these nonprofits and organizations apply for grants they’re cumbersome and span the course of years,” Ossenfort said. “With ARPA, we can go and really get a boost in the arm to nonprofits that are doing important work.”
A structural analysis of the Broodmare Barn was already prepared earlier this year by Delaware Engineering through a $4,000 Technical Assistance Grant from the Preservation League of New York State. The town paid $1,000 in matching funds for the study.
Further engineering will be required to plan out the required stabilization projects before work is sent out to bid. The entire cost of repairs is not yet known, but DiMezza indicated work on the barn foundation would be a priority for the county funding.
“We’re going to go as far as we can with it,” he said. “There is an area on the south side of the barn where the foundation is falling apart. We need to get that fixed rather soon.”
The town already performed in-house work to prevent further damage installing new drainage to prevent water from collecting along the foundation of the local landmark.
Urgency about making structural repairs came into sharp focus after one of the original Sanford Stud Farm barns that was still standing on Tessiero Square partially collapsed in 2019. The building behind the Towne Square shopping plaza — both properties owned by Carnegie Development — was beyond salvaging and had to be demolished.
“The Sanford Stud Farm holds a special place in my heart because of its rich history. We’ve seen development on Route 30 that is positive for the future, but I think remembering the rich history of that property is important,” Ossenfort said. “We need to preserve it and make sure future generations can have something tangible to remember.”
Stabilization work is expected to be performed sometime next year, according to DiMezza, who is hopeful the project will eventually lead to the reopening of the historic site for activities and events.
“We’d like to eventually have this as a place for public use where people can come in on certain days to visit and see the history we have there,” DiMezza said. “It’s an essential part of Montgomery County history.”
Reach Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.