The Vander Ende-Onderdonk House in Ridgewood — which is usually visited by educational tours and history buffs — has struggled to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, they’re looking for donations, with a goal of collecting about $63,000, to maintain its footing in the community.
The Onderdonk House is the oldest Dutch Colonial stone house in New York City, dating back to the early 1700s. In 1975, the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society was established to preserve and reconstruct the house. The house has served as a museum and exhibit for decades, providing house tours, history lectures, classes and special events.
Arianna Stimpsl-Fernandez, the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society president, said that since the pandemic, the Onderdonk House took a huge financial hit.
“Like everyone else during COVID, we lost a ton of revenue,” Stimpsl-Fernandez. “We get a lot of revenue from space rentals like weddings, community events and school programs.”
Since 2008, the Onderdonk House has helped 13,000 children and adults learn about the community’s history through school programs. And since the COVID restrictions, they haven’t been able to offer the educational tours that sustain them. The Onderdonk House had to dip into reserves to support staff salaries. However, this isn’t a permanent solution.
The Onderdonk House started the 13K for 13K program that references the 13,000 people they impacted with their educational programs. That money would revamp the school program to a virtual format in order to reach more people.
“We don’t know what the future will look like; it seems like it changes every month,” Stimpsl-Fernandez said. “We would love for people to still come in and experience it but we’re also looking into producing videos to share with a classroom setting, having lectures be available online and create a hands-on element.”
The second donation program asks for $50,000 for operational costs to keep the house running. Stimpsl-Fernandez said that though the situation isn’t dire and the Onderdonk House isn’t at risk of closing yet, there is still a great need for support.
Stimpsl-Fernandez said that if Onderdonk House were to close, it would be a “huge loss.”
“I remember going to the Onderdonk House when I was little,” Stimpsl-Fernandez said. “We’re trying to get creative for our events in this COVID era that keeps everyone safe. We really hope the community comes with us and enjoys the new look of the Onderdonk House.”
For more information on how to donate, visit onderdonkhouse.org/support-us-today.