What once looked like a boarded-up old house with chipped white paint and broken windows has turned into an exhibit with more than 170 years of history.
The home at 31 Garrison Road in Williamsville has been raised from its foundation and has taken on new proportions.
The house, which dates back to the early 1800s, was separated last week. It will get shipped out, cleaned up and set on a plot of land at the Amherst Museum Colony Park as a historical display.
Warren Miller is donating the home to the museum. The house was said to have been built about 1820, but Miller figures it was about 1810.
The house was taken apart, and only the oldest section will undergo restoration for display. The back portion of the home, which was added later, will be destroyed.
"We elected to demolish the house but didn't want to destroy the historic portion," Miller said.
During the War of 1812, U.S. troops used the area, now known as Garrison Road, for their log barracks and later as hospitals. With the strong military presence there before and after the war, the house was probably used during the war in some way, he said.
"All the time sequence is so close it would be a safe guess," he said.
Miller said he bought the house in 1969 and rented it out for a number of years until it became vacant about five or six years ago.
Vandals and criminal mischief took their toll on the boarded-up house, and it would have cost too much to repair, he said. So Miller began talks with museum officials a few years ago.
"It's something we always wanted on our property because it's one of the oldest buildings in Williamsville," said Jerald Stoddard, president of the museum's board of trustees.
The house still has the original fireplace and chimney, although little else is known about it.
"We're hoping an archaeological architect can come in and really help us understand more," said Lynn Beman, executive director of the museum.
Mrs. Beman hopes to get a grant to research the history of the building through town records and other documents.
"It's one of those things when we wish the house could talk," she said.
The home, now on blocks, is expected to be moved early this week, Stoddard said. The top half of the home will be cut off before transporting it, then be reattached at the museum site on Tonawanda Creek Road in East Amherst.