On The Record
Sep 09, 2009 | 15965 views | 0 0 comments | 446 446 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When Kimberly Maier first moved to Park Slope in the early 1990’s, she knew little of the Old Stone House in what was then J.J. Byrne Park. Few people do, until they discover the unassuming neighborhood gem.

Maier, now the Old Stone House’s executive director, first visited the building to speak about school programming (at the time, Maier was an active member of her PTA).

If it was love at first sight, the feeling was mutual.

After speaking there, Maier was later asked to take over, in order to bring more attention to the structure that played a crucial role in the Battle of Brooklyn, and has remained standing ever since. She said she readily agreed.

Since assuming the helm in 2004, Maier has increased programming at the facility and raised awareness about the site’s history.

More visitors hit up the house on tours of Park Slope than ever before. Maier said the house was visited by more than 20,000 people in 2008. Some are tourists from all over the country.

The site, which has a museum open to the public, also serves over 6,000 students annually through a variety of educational programs, she said.

“We’ve worked hard the last few years to get our name out there,” said Maier, a Massachusetts native with a background in non-profit arts management who moved to Brooklyn over 20 years. “There aren’t that many Revolutionary War sites” remaining in New York.

Maier has made sure that The Old Stone House has something for everyone, not just history buffs. In the summer the facility puts on concerts and theater performances outdoors in the surrounding park, which has been renamed Washington Park.

She said Parks Department renovations to the park (which include an already completed state-of-the-art turf sports field) include plans to feature the Old Stone House more prominently by improving accessibility to the building.

Other future plans include an expanded garden and more cultural and educational events. Maier said she also hopes to establish a permanent summer concert series, and book performers years in advance to build up hype for the shows.

“That’s the joy of living being a relatively small-budgeted historical site,” said Maier. “There’s a lot of opportunity for growth.”

(Daniel Bush)

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