Cobblestone Museum has raised $400K towards $750K welcome center

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 September 2021 at 9:45 am

Organization to acquire 1834 ‘Brick House’ with plans for an addition at key crossroads location

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Cobblestone Museum will be acquiring the “Brick House” and will turn it into a welcome center that would promote other tourism sites and businesses in Orleans County.

GAINES – The Cobblestone Museum has announced it has raised $400,000 out of a $750,000 goal for a visitor’s center in the historic Childs hamlet.

The museum is acquiring the “Brick House,” a 3,000-square-foot building from 1834 at the southeast corner of the routes 98 and 104 and wants to put an addition on the back of the brick building with new modern bathrooms and a meeting space that hold up to 100 people. The property includes 50 parking spaces.

The site would be an Orleans County welcome center and would promote businesses and other tourism sites in the county.

“It’s a win-win,” said County Legislator Fred Miller, who is serving on a fund-raising committee for the project. “It would help all of Orleans County. It’s perfect.”

Miller would like to see the county tourism office be based out of the site, with the county providing some steady revenue to the museum as a tenant in the building.

He sees tourism and the Cobblestone Museum working together to promote other attractions, including fishing, the Medina Railroad Museum, the Niagara Wine Trail (which runs along Route 104) and other historic districts and sites.

“It’s right at Route 98 and 104 which are major routes in the county,” Miller said about the site. “It would be ideal, and it would help everybody. It wouldn’t just be an Albion or Medina thing. Hopefully people will get on board.”

Gail Johnson, a member of the capitol committee for a welcome/visitor center, and Cobblestone Museum Director Doug Farley are pictured by the “Brick House,” a building the museum is acquiring with plans for an addition. The site also has about 50 parking spaces.

Many people already have given to the project. The museum has been doing a “silent” capital campaign and has $400,000 committed. It is making the campaign public this week and welcomes community support.

The Cobblestone Museum’s board of directors have considered a visitor’s center as part of the museum’s campus for several years. But there wasn’t enough room for a new building at the museum campus, which is a National Historic Landmark, the only site in Orleans County with that designation besides the Erie Canal.

The Cobblestone group only had to look across Ridge Road from the Cobblestone Church to see a stately red brick home with six fireplaces. That church was also built in 1834.

Ray and Linda Burke fixed up the brick house, added parking and a driveway on Route 98. They opened Fair Haven Treasures in May 2014. They have high-end artisans and crafters at the site. Doug Farley, the Cobblestone Museum’s director, praised the Burkes for their work and care for the property.

“It is ideal for a welcome center,” Farley said about the brick house. “It is high visibility.”

The $750,000 campaign total would fund the following: $260,000 purchase price with closing costs; $200,000 for meeting room addition; $130,000 for theater and interactive exhibits; $100,000 for ADA accessibility; $30,000 for architectural planning; $20,000 for stabilization (roof, septic, windows, masonry, etc.); and $10,000 for historic structures report.

The Cobblestone Welcome Center Fundraising Campaign Committee includes chairman Richard Remley, treasurer Kevin Hamilton, Brett Kast, Andrew Meier, County Legislator Fred Miller, retired county historian Bill Lattin (who was the museum director for 40 years), Gail Johnson, Cobblestone Museum President Erin Anheier and Doug Farley, the museum director.

Ray and Linda Burke, shown in May 2014, gave the site new life as Fair Haven Treasures.

The Burkes in their work on the building removed plywood and linoleum from the floors, and discovered hardwood floors underneath. They took out one wall to make a bigger room that they used for performances and public events.

The museum cited many benefits of the acquiring the Brick House, including:

  • a highly visible location to promote the museum and other local sites
  • plentiful additional parking for school and tour buses, and other museum events including weddings
  • year-round access to bathrooms
  • further expansion of the Childs historic district
  • expanding educational programming and visitation with year-round access
  • kitchenette for use by caterers or small receptions
  • large community meeting space for educational programming
  • multi-purpose room
  • space for Orleans County Tourism Department (currently based at Orleans County Office Building on Route 31)
  • new exhibit space to interpret Orleans County history
  • space for viewing an introductory video and new cobblestone interactive exhibits
  • distribute materials for local attractions including Medina Railroad Museum, Erie Canal, lighthouse at Point Breeze, campgrounds, marinas, bed and breakfast sites, sports fishing, agri-business, wineries and other locations.

The capital campaign includes several opportunities for naming rights, including the building name (for $250,000-plus), large meeting room ($75,000), Orleans County History Room ($30,000), Reception Desk ($25,000), Ground Floor Rooms (5 at $25,000 each), Second Floor Rooms (5 at $20,000 each), Entrance ($20,000), Stairway ($15,000), Meeting Room on lower level ($15,000) and Major Donor Plaque Entry (Heritage level at $10,000 or more).

The donations can be paid over five years. For more information on the capital campaign, click here to be directed to the museum website or contact Farley at (585) 589-9013, or by email at

A group of Santas helped dedicate International Peace Garden at the Brick House property at the corner of 98 and 104 on April 17, 2015. The Santas were in town for a Santa convention.