Southold Historical Museum applies for funding to weatherize barn, plans new exhibit on farm labor camps

The Southold Historical Museum is applying for a grant to weatherize the barn at the Maple Lane Complex, where they’ve planned an exhibit on the “untold stories” of 20th century immigrant farm laborers in town.

The funds would also go towards improving ADA access throughout the complex in general with lighting and other ground updates. 

“The proposed site improvements will encourage visitors to pull over, park their car or bike to explore the complex, which serves as a central town square,” Executive Director Deanna Witte-Walker said at a Town Board work session on Tuesday. “Weatherization of our on-site underutilized barn annex will allow us to have a new year round exhibit about the labor camps. We think that would help us as well to incorporate technology and to offer things like translations.”

The anticipated cost of the project is $325,000. The grant could cover up to half of those costs. The plan is to apply for more funding to cover costs, but the historical museum’s board of trustees is “committed to fund the match if necessary,” according to Ms. Witte-Walker. 

“We think this is an important project that would welcome and encourage our audience,” she said. 

The Town Board approved a resolution to support the consolidated funding application to the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council at a regular meeting later that day. 

The Southold Historical Museum, founded in 1960, is a private nonprofit chartered by the New York State Board of Regents. Rebranded from the Southold Historical Society last year, the organization holds tours, events and fundraisers throughout the year to “celebrate the traditions and history” of Southold, according to Ms. Witte-Walker. 

“The mission of Southold Historical Museum is to preserve and interpret collections and buildings that engage, educate and connect the public to Southold’s history and culture,” she said. 

The three-acre Maple Lane Complex encompasses more than a dozen historic buildings that date back to the eighteenth century. The Prince Building on Main Road houses museum offices, archives and shops where researchers can schedule appointments to examine documents or request research assistance.