To the Editor: The lead paragraph of the Millbrook Independent editorial “Looking back” (12.11.13) describes accurately two of the most prominent buildings in Millbrook: the former Bennett College as “a major embarrassment,” and the Thorne Building as “an aging monument to education and generosity.” The editorial, however, ignores the concerted work of Adhocmillbrook12545, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3), specifically organized to preserve the decaying Thorne Building. For almost three years Adhoc has been raising awareness about the state of the Thorne Building. Preventing the Thorne Building going the way of Bennett, which is indeed a “major embarrassment to the town and village,” is a challenge. Bennett is now a dangerous ruin. It didn’t need to be: with some vision and action and political will, it could have remained an architectural gem in the heart of the village, offering a mix of uses that would strengthen the community. The same combination of vision and leadership from our village government, our local press, and activists could prevent the Thorne Building, that local “monument to education and generosity,” from going the way of Bennett. For whatever reason the Millbrook Independent has not reported the efforts of Adhoc. Drawing on the talents, energy, and time of its founding local community volunteers, Adhocmillbrook12545 has distributed an informational broadside, attended and presented at village meetings, written letters to the Village Board, maintained an ongoing conversation with the mayor, monitored the legal issues around the reverter clause and the unfortunate lease agreement, questioned the minimizing of funds to maintain the Thorne Building, met with key local foundation players, convened with interested parties of cultural institutions, and generally raised awareness about the Thorne Building. Is the issue resolved? No. Is the Village of Millbrook Board of Trustees moving towards a sale of the Thorne Building? Yes. Are they doing such with public awareness of this decision? Mostly no. Shouldn’t there be a public referendum when such a property is proposed for sale? Yes. Should the Millbrook Independent be reporting on what Adhocmillbrook12545 raises in questions at Village Board meetings? Yes. Is it? No. The Millbrook Independent could be, and should be, a major catalyst for action on the Thorne Building, demanding a “working plan,” making the public aware of what is happening, and preventing the further diminishment of community assets. That is what Adhocmillbrook12545 is trying to do. Should we not join together, and with others, and become part of the “determined leadership” resolving the problem? Sincerely, Lorraine Alexander, Christine Bates, Mary Keelan, Barbara Milo Ohrbach, Margo Peter, Eve Propp, Grace Rosa, Janice Silverstone, Maris Van Alen, Julia Widdowson
One of our readers sent the below letter which we are printing in its entirety. The Thorne Building is a wonderful old building in the center of Millbrook which has been a subject of much discussion centering about the future of the building. Bennett College closed in the 1970s. It was a very fancy junior college. It was said that the students usually got a ring by the Spring of their final year. Halcyon hall the large college building is a ruin, falling down, vacant and dangerous.
Maybe one of our readers can give me some further information about the Thorne Building and the status of reversion and an “unfortunate lease.”