Written By John R. Greenwood photos provided
History buffs rejoice! The Brill Mansion has been saved by the bell. With the clock ticking down, historic preservation prayers have been answered. The Brill Mansion, or Pepper’s Turkey Farm as locals remember it, has been given a new lease on life. The brick home and outbuildings have been left unoccupied and deteriorating for the past several years. That decline has been difficult to watch for those with fond memories of the once-thriving turkey farm. Since the "For Sale" signs first went up, residents have been wondering aboutits future. Would the entire property and its buildings be leveled? What would take its place? Would someone step in and rescue the nineteenth-century structure? Anyone familiar with the farm in its prime nervously awaited the answer.
A few months ago, during one of my morning walks, I noticed activity in the overgrown driveway. Cars, trucks, and a large dumpster were parked there. Was this a good sign or bad? My curiosity commandeered my phone. I dialed the Wilton Town Complex and was directed to Town Historian Karen James. Karen told me the property had indeed been sold. I was assured that the home and at least one of the barns would be spared. She asked if I was aware of the Brill Mansion Facebook Page. She said the family established the page to help inform the public about what was happening there. I hadn’t seen it, but I was grateful for the news. I told her my hope would be to share the FB page's existence via an article in Simply Saratoga Magazine. She offered to forward my phone number to the family. She said she would explain my interest and ask if they would give me a call.
A day later, my phone rang. A friendly voice identified herself as Joanne Blaauboer. She said Karen had called her and explained my love of local history and that I was interested in the property's rehabilitation. Joanne went on to explain that her stepson Michael Blaauboer was the actual buyer. He'd bought the property as a potential investment. As the Deputy Historian for the Town of Northampton, Joanne enjoyed seeing others document historic restorations. Her enthusiasm persuaded Micheal to let her start the "Brill Mansion, locally known as The Pepper Turkey Farm" Facebook Page. Here she would share the history of the property and the families that had lived there. Along with that Joanne wanted to show the progress of the rehab through using both historic and current photographs. The minute you arrive at the page you will see that she has done an outstanding job in both regards. The proof is in the 1800’s illustration taken from Nathaniel Barrett Sylvester's book, History of Saratoga County 1609-1878 that graces the top of the page.
The family has embraced the warm memories and positive comments the page has already generated. They look forward to hearing many more.
Happy (Historic) Holidays!
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