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Historical Society looks ahead with 20-year lease for HLOM

By Joanne Beck
HLOM front view
Holland Land Office Museum on West Main Street in Batavia is on the priority list for upgrades, and is closer to reality with a 20-year lease agreement between the county and Holland Purchase Historical Society. File Photo by Howard Owens.

A 20-year property lease will provide the assurance for Holland Purchase Historical Society to move forward with plans for Holland Land Office Museum’s eventual restoration and expansion on the west side, Executive Director Ryan Duffy says.

The nonprofit’s board has been pursuing a capital project and related survey; however, nailing down an agreement that the Society would retain rights to the property throughout the project was an integral part of the process before moving forward, Duffy said after approval by the Human Services Committee on Monday.

“So this is an important piece to allow us to pursue funding for the dream of the addition, as we have to be able to show extended occupancy,” he said. “So having this lease allows us to do that and allows us to go after bigger grants.

“We’re going to have to get major funding through grants in order to pursue this project," he said. "So that’s why this lease agreement was very important.”

He couldn’t — or wouldn’t — disclose any other details about the project and a related timeline for grant funding, restoration and potential construction of a welcome center.

Last year county legislators approved the bid of $43,324 from consultant Wendel of Williamsville to conduct a restoration study of each nook and cranny of Holland Land Office Museum to determine what its future needs might be. The consultants were going to assess “functionality issues” of the West Main Street, Batavia, site, according to county Highway Superintendent Tim Hens.

“It’s a full, comprehensive look at the building,” Hens had said at the time. “And it should give us a road map of what we need.”

The Batavian checked back in with Hens this April to find out how that study was progressing, and he said it was still ongoing. County Attorney James Wujcik has also been working with the Historical Society’s board to finalize a lease agreement.

As County Manager Matt Landers explained, the project will require a substantial amount of grant funding, and “they just want assurances that we don't give the building away or sell it on them.” 

"I am supportive of it. Jim was able to find the ability for us to do this over the course of 20 years. With an out clause that we still have built into it,” Landers said.

Board members and legislators said that, in addition to the other purposes it serves, they would also like to see the museum become a polling site in the future.

Legislator Marianne Clattenburg was on board with future plans and happy to see the work that it’s taken to get here so far.

"I just want to say thank you to whoever was involved for having this come to fruition. The plans that they have are pretty impressive; I think many things we've seen for future generations, and it's a source of pride in our history,” Clattenburg said. “And also, it's a very significant educational tool for students that come through there. I know they want to expand on that, expanding progress and all that, so this is like the first step, and I wish them all the luck in the world getting what they need.”

The agreement states that the county agrees to lease to the Historical Society the premises commonly known as the Holland Land Office Museum located at 131 West Main Street, Batavia, NY.

The Historical Society will lease the entire two-story Holland Land Office Museum building and its east and west wings, totaling 6,132 square feet and shall have the right to use the west side parking lot in common with other visitors and uses, for a period of 20 years, from June July 1, 2023 to May 31, 2043.

This Agreement is contingent on the continuous and uninterrupted maintenance and operation of the Museum.

Holland Office Museum back view
Holland Land Office Museum from the west side next to the parking lot, where a prospective welcome center may be located. File Photo by Howard Owens.

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