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Das Haus takes Greenway funds request to committee

LOCKPORT – The operators of a small German heritage museum in Bergholz brought their quest to reassemble a 169-year-old combination house and barn before a Niagara County Legislature committee Monday.

The panel will consider the request from Das Haus, the museum of the Historical Society of the North German Settlements in Western New York. It is seeking $100,000 in Niagara River Greenway funding to rebuild the Haseley Einhaus structure on its property on Niagara Road, just east of the City of Niagara Falls.

The Einhaus, which means "one house" in German, was a building that offered housing to both settlers and farm animals.

It is believed to date from late 1843, the year in which some 600 immigrants from northern Prussia arrived in the Town of Wheatfield and founded the hamlet of Bergholz.

"They needed a place to live quickly, because the weather was turning," said Randy Warblow of North Tonawanda, a Das Haus board member.

He said other housing came from Lockport lawyer Washington Hunt, later governor of New York. He donated 22 log cabins, originally built to house Erie Canal construction workers. Das Haus , where the logs are covered with clapboards, is one of them.

"This is the last remaining structure from 1843. The logs are probably from the 1820s," Warblow said.

The museum acquired the Einhaus in 2008 and had it taken apart, piece by piece, on its original location on Stoelting Street in Bergholz.

It's called the Haseley Einhaus after its last owner, Wallace Haseley.

The numbered pieces are stored in a barn, and the framework has been re-erected behind Das Haus.

John Schultz of Wheatfield, another Das Haus board member, said the Einhaus would relieve a space crunch at the museum. A barn behind the house is "crammed full" of artifacts the museum has no room to display.

Last week, the Greenway Commission split 5-5 on whether the Einhaus plan was consistent with the Greenway plan. The commission's votes don't matter, said Legislator Michael A. Hill, R-Hartland, chairman of the County Legislature's Ad Hoc Greenway Committee. He said if his committee and the full Legislature approve, the request will go to the Host Communities Standing Committee, which controls the purse strings for Greenway projects in the county.

But Assistant County Attorney R. Thomas Burgasser said the Greenway money is not generally supposed to cover more than half of a project's cost. Das Haus estimates the total project cost at $120,500, with most of the non-Greenway money coming from its own coffers.

"You're supposed to leverage this money. You're not supposed to ask for the whole thing," Burgasser said.