Keeler Tavern Museum Capital Campaign

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Campaign

This campaign financially supports the 2016 acquisition of 152 Main Street and its integration with 132 Main Street, restoring the historic Keeler Tavern property to its early 20th-century configuration. The campaign will pay for the property acquisition, renovation of the acquired property’s Brick House as a Visitor Center, and development of the combined sites into Keeler Tavern Museum and History Center.
What is the campaign fundraising goal?
Having exceeded our initial goal of $1.5 million by the end of 2018, we are now well on the way to our $2 million goal to fully transform the campus and our visitor experience.
Why did you buy 152 Main Street before raising the money to finance the purchase?
The property was offered to the Museum before being placed on the open market for sale. After much deliberation and soul-searching, the Board of Directors reached the conclusion that this was a once-in-a-generation opportunity that it could not pass up.
  • The Museum has had an acute shortage of space for some time now, and this was the ideal solution.
  • The offer was not going to be on the table for very long. The Board had to act quickly and take a risky step, just like the founders of the Museum did some 50 years ago, when they purchased and opened the site to the public.
  • The property had been part of the original site up to 1958, when it was sold to Dr. Robert Mead.
  • Most importantly for the town, the preservation of historic Main Street is a major element of Ridgefield’s quality of life. If KTM had not bought the property, what would have been the alternative—cluster housing, apartments...?
Combined, how much land along Main Street does the Museum now own?
We own a total of 3.8 acres, with about 350 feet of Main Street frontage preserved as Ridgefield’s southern gateway.
Why was this acquisition/expansion/renovation necessary?
KTM&HC had grown its programming using its current structures to the point that students attending school programs sometimes had to be accommodated in tents, and visitors crowd into its tavern Tap Room to await a tour because there’s no other place to go for tour registration, site orientation, and restroom access. With the expanded site, KTM&HC expects to double its volume not only of public tours, but also of school programs—with associated increases in revenue and benefit to the town as a destination, but minimal impact on vehicular traffic.
How did you pay the purchase price of $1.15 million?
We made a 20% down payment, dipping into a modest endowment that we have accumulated through the years, and whose income is essential for our operations. We supplemented that with additional museum funds.
Who is doing the work?
For Phase 1, Finer Homes, Inc., Ridgefield, CT, is acting as general contractor, obtaining competitive bids as appropriate for key elements of the project. The firm is also completing portions of the project, pro bono.
How are you using the funds raised?
Phase 1 Capital Campaign funds have been used to address acute needs for a Visitor Center, staff offices, and expanded parking. In Phase 2, which will continue through 2020, funds will be used to substantially pay down the mortgage, undertake a full reinterpretation of the site, and fully equip the Visitor Center’s main floor orientation space. We'll aslo build out the lower level with a state-of-the-art archival and collections storage and research facility and replenish funds drawn from the endowment for the purchase.
Will the Museum be open to the public while construction is underway?
Yes! Minimal interruptions in our tour schedule and business operations are anticipated, as few of the changes involve spaces that are currently in use The Visitor Center lobby is open, and staff are now located in its offices. Thereafter the bulk of the work is confined to the Visitor Center’s lower level and to landscaping and site wayfinding improvements.

About Our Future

Is KTM on solid financial footing?
Yes. Keeler Tavern Museum and History Center has always been a good steward of its resources, understanding that only through fiscal responsibility can it truly accomplish its dual goals of education and preservation. We have undertaken this campaign not to fund our day-to-day existence, but to expand our facilities to serve audiences of all ages, on site, online, and through outreach.
Will KTM be able to afford and maintain the new Visitor Center?
Yes. The acquisition and integration of 152 Main Street provides KTMHC with the capability to generate increased revenue. The acquired property’s two highly desirable apartments and its garages command market rates and will provide steady rental income. Equally important, our business plan anticipates more open hours for public enjoyment and education—doubling income from school programs and from visitors who will be attracted by our new Visitor Center’s changing exhibitions and expanded tour offerings.
Will the income from the rentals be taxable?
The Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit, and our current status extends to this acquisition. There are two rental apartments plus garages on the new property, generating about 9% of our annual revenue total. Property taxes have been reduced to reflect the change of tax status
The Museum is currently open to the public for only 9 hours each week, Wed/Sat/Sun, 1 – 4 PM. To make this expense worthwhile, won’t you have to expand that? Maybe even be open in the evenings?
Within the next five years, we hope to be open for 20 daytime hours each week, Friday through Monday (e.g., 11 AM – 4 PM), and to have introduced state-of-the-art technology to our museum experience. Even if visitor traffic increases significantly above its current level, the total will be spread over more days and hours, smoothing any impact.

About Giving to the Campaign

Are there naming opportunities?
Yes. Naming opportunities are available for different ranges of gifts.
What types of gifts are acceptable?
This is a multiyear campaign to which pledges are welcome. You may choose to give a large amount in equal increments over five years or to give a single gift. We accept cash, checks, credit, and stock gifts.
Is my gift tax deductible?
Gifts are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. Keeler Tavern Museum and History Center’s Tax ID is 06-6076244.
What about matching gifts?
Donors are strongly encouraged to inquire about their employer’s matching gift programs. Each program matches a donor’s charitable gift, often doubling or even tripling the original donation.
I make an annual donation to KTM; isn’t that enough?
Thank you for your past and continuing support for KTMHC! You are the reason we are in such strong financial shape. The It’s Our Turn to Make History Campaign gives you a unique opportunity to invest in the Museum’s future. By supporting the campaign with your financial gift, you are demonstrating your commitment to our vision: to be the region’s preferred historic site for interpreting three centuries of lived experiences.