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Herkimer Home's afternoon tea one of many fundraisers helping to keep site open

By CAROLINE GABLE and CRISTINA PICOZZI

LITTLE FALLS, N.Y. (WKTV) - With picture perfect conditions, the Herkimer Home hosted their annual afternoon tea with the help of volunteers on Wednesday.

Visitors enjoyed their tea as they were given a history lesson by their servers, who were dressed in 18th century clothing, inside the house of General Nicholas Herkimer.

Supporters not only got to enjoy an afternoon of warm weather, but they also go a history lesson that drew visitors from far and near.

Brenda Chenier, of Ohio, grew up in Michigan and explained that the Herkimer Home is a great opportunity for everyone to learn about history.

"I love this part of New York," Chenier said. "It's great and to close something like this, I don't know why they would. This is your touch of history. For children, seeing is believing and if they don't see this, they're not going to learn the history of their area, let alone be curious enough to go to other states and learn about history."

Friends of Herkimer Home, an organization created to promote the restoration, conservation, educational and cultural programs at the Herkimer Home State Historic Site, helped host the fundraiser, which the group hopes will bring in money to keep the historic site open to the public.

However, this fundraiser is only a small reason why the Herkimer Home remains open today.

The doors of the Herkimer Home were on a list "to close for good" with state budget cuts in 2010. However, with the support of its volunteers, the Herkimer Home is able to operate.

The site's budget decreased from a $300,000budget to $100,000 grant, which the state hopes will stretch with a little help.

There are now two seasonal employees left since the budget cuts who are helping keep the history alive at the site.

Director Nancy Cioch knows everything there is to know about the Battle of Oriskany, the Revolutionary War battle that took General Herkimer's life.

Cioch is not only a seasonal employee at the site and she is also a member of the Friends of Herkimer Home, as well as a relative of General Herkimer. This made the news for possible closure last year hit even closer to home for her.

"This tells the history of the Mohawk Valley," Cioch said. "I am a descendant of many of those early [German] Palentines and also, I am a descendant of the Herkimer family, which makes it especially nice to work and care for the artifacts that belonged to Uncle Nicolas Herkimer."

Program Director Brian Heffron explained that more people are drawn to Herkimer Home since the close call of a closure.

"Nancy Cioch and I have heard people say 'we're so glad you folks are open, we're so happy that this site is available for people to come out and enjoy,'" Heffron said. "I think a lot of the times, when they first [found] out that this site was going to close, a lot of people said 'gosh I haven't been there in a while or it's something I've been meaning to do."

The Herkimer Home has more events coming up this summer including a few more tea parties.

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