Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center Declares Victory for Capital Campaign;
Plans Visitor Center Grand Opening on July 4th
Ridgefield, CT – Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center (KTM&HC) has “declared victory” for its capital campaign, having received pledges, grants and individual gifts totaling more than $1.5 million to fund its campus expansion and transformation. In 2016, KTM&HC acquired 152 Main Street, the property immediately to the north of the historic Keeler Tavern; it was originally part of that site, dating back to the town’s founding in 1708. With funds donated by philanthropists throughout the community, KTM&HC has turned the acquired property’s brick building into a Visitor Center, the welcoming first stop for its several thousand annual visitors.
“Reaching our initial fundraising goal is not quite as momentous as surviving British cannon fire 242 years ago,” says Hilary Micalizzi, KTM&HC’s board president, referring to the upcoming anniversary of the April 27, 1777, skirmish that permanently lodged a cannonball in the historic tavern’s northeast corner post. “But it is an extraordinary milestone—one that speaks volumes about our donors’ generosity and their confidence in our future,” she adds.
KTM&HC is acknowledging all donors in lists on its campaign website, in its annual report and advertising, and in displays at the new Visitor Center, which will have its grand opening on July 4, 2019. The new Visitor Center will offer space to greet visitors, provide needed amenities, and orient them to the 4-acre campus and its evocative history.
“This project is as deserving as any I’ve ever seen,” says Nick Donofrio, honorary chair of KTM&HC’s capital campaign. Donofrio, who has been involved in philanthropic endeavors large and small all over the country, called the acquisition of 152 Main Street a “gutsy move.” “The Museum’s leadership has really made history with this project, and as a community—as a region, in fact—we’re going to benefit from it for decades to come.”
KTM&HC will continue to solicit campaign commitments and gifts through 2021, aiming for the $2 million mark. The funds will enable the Center to further pay down the mortgage that funded the purchase; develop new multi-media tours, exhibitions and programs that tell the expanded campus’s many stories; and create a new collections archival storage and research facility in the Visitor Center’s lower level.
KTM&HC tells 300 years of the town’s—and nation’s—history through the lives of its past residents. Tours of its 1713 Keeler Tavern are offered Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Further information about the site, including rental of its Cass Gilbert-designed Garden House and garden for social occasions, can be found at keelertavernmuseum.org or Facebook.com/KeelerTavernMuseum.
Pictured in front of Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center’s new Visitor Center (Grand Opening, July 4th) are the leaders of the Center’s capital campaign, left to right: Hildi Grob, executive director; Hilary Micalizzi, board president and campaign co-chair; Nick Donofrio, honorary campaign chair; and campaign co-chairs Kam Daughters and Joel Third.