Today I write about a variation on the empty houses theme and how groups make the impossible happen by coming together. Besides being a wealthy individual or a successful business entity, this happens when people band together and pool their money to make things happen for the sake of the group.
Photo#1- In 1998 , I attended an auction on this pretty 64 acre property. Mr Schmitt had a successful aerospace equipment business and a hobby-or I should say a dream- to create a replica village for others to enjoy. He moved whole houses from other locations in Connecticut and created a Christmas village which people did enjoy for years, even having weddings in the chapel. Most of the houses were not functional-plumbing or electric missing- most was for show, but there was a fully functional restaurant that had some regular business hours. When Mr. Schmitt died of cancer in 1998, the auction of antiques and vintage cars was extensive. In 2017, after being for sale for years, a Church group, based out of the Philippines, Inglesia Ni Christo (Church of Christ) paid 1.85 million for this gem. They pooled their resources, and since they are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit church charity, the town will receive no yearly property tax from them.
Photo#2- This old summer camp containing several buildings and a pool on 18 acres lay empty for years until in 2003 a Muslim religious group from New York City bought it. Not much changed for years and it looked quite abandoned until a few years ago, it changed hands to another Mulim group. It has been cleared up a bit but not occupied. They have plans for a boys school. Once again, they have pooled their resources to buy a $900,000 property an individual could not manage to afford and because they are a nonprofit church group, they pay no taxes to the town.
Photo#3- It was once a flourishing summer resort but is now in disrepair. The 21 acres contains about 30 buildings and a large in-ground pool. A Jewish man owned it from 1982 until his death in 2018 and he apparently bequeathed it to a Jewish church group based near the New York City border. Girls belonging to this group have been coming for camp for several years until the covid hit. The appraised value is about 1.2 million dollars. They also pay no taxes on this property.
Photo#4- A 90 acre camp for children, operated since 1962 until 2 years ago when it lacked enough campers signing up for summer camp. At first it was a 4H designated camp, which focuses on farm skills and animal husbandry, but dropped that focus years ago for nature and wall climbing. It is up for sale now for half a million dollars and they are in negotiations with a business called Getaway- which offers cabins in nature all over the east coast. Getaway.house is where you will find them. City people need a nature escape at times. In a recent article in my local newspaper about the possible sale, they pointed out that the town would receive tax revenue of $20,000 per year if the sale goes through, after decades of the town receiving no tax monies because of the nonprofit status of the camp. I could feel the enthusiasm of the writer as I read this. The old, uninsulated cabins on the property will surely be demolished by the new owner in favor of slick new “tiny house” style modern amenities. I would like to save those structures for use. I hate to see waste.
This last story does not involve a religious grouping but people banded together to fill a need for children to have summer camp and they did accomplish this for many years. There must have been people with caring, passion and drive behind this nonprofit. They worked together and raised money to make it happen. Can somebody in the American or South African community not do the same to help persecuted families coming to America to start a new life? I am searching for the key which will move people to be involved. The fact of what is happening to them in South Africa should be enough to engage us. Any ideas friends?