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Exterior works begins on mansion

Submitted photo Crews from Tri-County Restoration prep the bricks and mortar of McClurg mansion for painting.

The old girl is getting a facelift. You surely cannot miss the projects under way this summer at McClurg Museum if you happen to go by.

Until now, the refurbishing and shoring up of this 200-year-old grand dame of Moore Park in Westfield, which is home to the Chautauqua County Historical Society, mostly involved interior projects. Well, that is except for when a hail storm destroyed our copper roof along with a lot of other roofs — and cars — in Westfield a couple of years ago.

This summer, finally, the exterior of the mansion has been primed and painted, bricks repointed or replaced. All 37 windows are set to be reglazed as needed, wood trim replaced as needed and all of that painted as well.

The concrete deck on the front porch is being restored, the upper structure refurbished, and the two side porches restored.

Like good plastic surgery, once the porch projects are completed, you might not notice the work has been done because all three will look the same as they do now. Only better.

What a difference a little paint has made to the atmosphere and feel throughout the whole park. Well. Not a little paint. It took scores of gallons and it was all done properly with the right kind of paint for those old, soft bricks by Tri-County Restoration. We are also grateful to Raynor Construction and Leamer’s Masonry and More for their help and guidance through this long series of projects.

A 188-page report by an historic architect firm pegs the period of historic significance of McClurg mansion as 1818-1888. We are grateful for guidance from state preservationists to keep the work on the mansion that resulted from the study historically correct for that time period, and also structurally appropriate and sound for today’s needs.

The report recommended work be done in phases, based on the critical need for the work to be done. We would be only at the beginning of Category One tasks were it not for the financial support of the Lenna Foundation, Sheldon Foundation, Chautauqua Region Community Foundation and Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation. Everyone in the county who cares about local history is also indebted to the Village of Westfield and its forward-looking mayor and trustees for the village’s financial support and ownership of the mansion that serves as the home of the Chautauqua County Historical Society. Along with the town of Westfield, which also supports the Historical Society and its stewardship of McClurg, the village has been a great partner since the day CCHS agreed to make McClurg its headquarters, saving it from being torn down some 72 years ago.

In all, when this summer’s projects are finished, CCHS will have spent $400,000 on the mansion to complete the critical first phase projects identified in the historic structures report and to get started on some of the recommended work in Category Two.

This report would not be complete without noting that the successes of these past years involving McClurg mansion are the result of the hard work of the building committee under the early leadership of now-retired John Paul Wolfe, then Bob Johnston and now committee chair Pete Holt. Today’s committee members are Sharon Howe, John Brown and David Brown.

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