One resident of the village of Croghan deserves a lot of credit for the effort she’s put in to preserving a historic structure.

Julie L. Robinson is the owner/operator of Crown Jules Realty and co-historian for the village. She has been looking for the right individual to take possession of Basselin House.

The residence served as the home of Theodore B. Basselin, the village’s first president. Mrs. Robinson has worked with co-historian Dawn Ashline to identify someone who can maintain the 160-year-old house.

Thomas Horne owns the mansion, but members of his family plan to return to Sweden. Mr. Horne contacted Mrs. Robinson to put it up for sale.

“Earlier in July, when a potential buyer interested in restoring Basselin House and potentially using the property for the community’s benefit fell through, Mrs. Robinson reached out on social media to check on community interest in the property this year,” according to a story published July 28 by the Watertown Daily Times. “Last year, the idea was floated to form a limited liability company as a vehicle through which community members could buy-in and be shareholders in the property to be used as a community meeting venue and a bed and breakfast. The idea was set aside when a Beaver Falls native living in California showed serious interest in purchasing and preserving the property. However, the funding wasn’t there, Mrs. Robinson said. Earlier in July, Mrs. Robinson reached out to the community for ideas and she is figuring out what is possible.”

Mrs. Robinson has spoken with representatives of the Lewis County Historical Society to see if any arrangement can be made with the organization. Staff members of the county’s Economic Development and Planning departments also are researching ideas to help out.

Mayor Irl M. Monnat and members of the Village Board of Trustees have not supported the idea of Basselin House being purchased by the community. So this option may not be possible.

Mrs. Robinson wants to ensure that the next owner will keep the home properly maintained, and this is important. It has tremendous value to Croghan.

“One of the major shapers of the community was Theodore Basselin, who was born March 24, 1851, in Grostenchen, a village [that] was in Germany but is now in France. His parents moved to the [United States] when he was 3 and settled in Croghan where they operated a general store,” according to information from the village’s website. “His father died when Theodore was 10. Theodore attended the Seminary of our Lady of Angels (later known as Niagara University) for one year but returned to Croghan where he worked in the family store for four years. In 1873, a friend gave him a parcel of land from which he prospered in the timber business. … Later, he expanded his interests to include furniture and paper manufacturing, a railroad, banking and electric power generation. He was elected the first president of the village of Croghan. He married in 1903, but his wife died three years later. A millionaire, he died at his home in Croghan on April 21, 1914. He left $100,000 for the creation of a college in Croghan and a generous endowment at the Catholic University of America. The Basselin mansion and family cemetery are significant Croghan landmarks.”

Safeguarding cherished assets is vital for any community. We commend Mrs. Robinson and Ms. Ashline for their work in seeing what can be done with Basselin House. Anyone with ideas should contact Mrs. Robinson at 315-777-2689.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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