VOORHEESVILLE — Since it was founded in 1961, Heldeberg Workshop has been known for its mission of teaching and promoting understanding, appreciation, respect for environment, heritage and country.
For a six-week long duration, 1,200 area students participate in non-traditional programs. The classes include fossil hunting, blacksmithing and weaving. Participants are educated by professional instructors, artisans and subject matter experts. Classrooms are located within 32 lean-tos, a large multi-unit pavilion, a theater building and outdoor stage, a working blacksmith shop, an archery building, a puppet stage, a half-size Iroquois Longhouse and a tepee.
In the spring and fall months, Heldeberg Workshop offers weekend classes to children, adults, and families. They support the use of the property by area scouting and 4H groups, environmental and historical organizations, college classes and students working on independent research projects.
Currently under construction at Heldeberg Workshop is a Sugar Shack. Once completed, it will be used to show and educate the community about how Maple syrup is made using Sugar Maple trees located on the Workshop’s property.
The Preservation League of New York State’s $8,000 grant to fund a Historic Landscape Report of the property from 1750 to the present day will only further enrich the exploration and education at this historic property.
“This report will shed light on the history of life beneath the Heldeberg Escarpment,” said Dorothy Matthews, the Workshop’s Development Committee Chair. “That knowledge will enrich our classes and generate interest among amateur and professional historians and archaeologists.”
Visitors can also enjoy the landscape that makes up 237 acres. There are 20 miles of hiking trails to explore. The property teems with wildlife, as there are diverse ecological and geological sources on the land. A pond, a wetland, a waterfall, meadows, and the slope of the escarpment carve out a picturesque scene in the natural setting.
Not only is the property rich with nature, the property itself also has its own distinctive history. Visitors of The Heldeberg Workshop can see how the property contains foundations of a pre-1767 homestead and a possible barn, as well as remains of an abandoned road, and an 1850s-era cemetery.
The unique background of the property tells the story of a rebel Tory attack occurring at the homestead in 1779. This resulted in a visit to the property by patriot commissioners for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies, a legal body formed in Albany in 1779 for the purpose of ferreting out traitors to the American cause. It is additionally the site of a farm owned by Captain Henry Crounse, a Civil War Army officer.
“The Preserve New York program ensures arts and culture organizations continue to be beacons of New York’s rich history. By preserving significant spaces and sites, we promote vitality and drive economic activity across our great state,” said New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) Executive Director, Mara Manus.
Since 1993, Preserve New York has been providing funds to municipalities and nonprofit organizations that need technical, professional assistance to guide a variety of preservation projects. The historic structure reports, building condition reports, cultural landscape reports, and cultural resource surveys funded through this program lead to positive outcomes across New York’s 62 counties.
“The projects funded by Preserve New York exemplify the excellent preservation planning work being done throughout our state,” said Katie Comeau, Vice President for Policy and Preservation and the Preservation League. “With each of these grants, a meaningful historic place takes a significant step toward a more secure future.”