Jos Baker has been humbled by contributions “big and small” that have poured in over the past six months to cover the cost of putting a new thatch roof on her historic house, Klein Zoar, in Brooklyn (“Staunch custodian of living history,” Tabletalk, August 24, 2016).
Ms Baker, who turned 80 at the end of last year, has dedicated a large part of her life to protecting the original character of her home, which dates back to the early 18th century.
Last year, she undertook the daunting project of having the entire roof of the “long house” rethatched, and she appealed for help to cover the crippling debt she had incurred.
“I am humbled by the contributions,” she said, adding, “I really want to thank those who helped save Klein Zoar.”
A generous grant from the Rowland and Leta Hill Trust, she said, had made a substantial dent in the debt, which she had since paid off.
“I must confess, I wept. Through your generosity, I can now sleep at night, secure in the knowledge that this historic house is now secure for the future. The thatchers say the roof will last my lifetime. As the 80-year-old custodian of this special place, I can’t ask for more.”
Ms Baker, and her late husband, David, bought the house in 1984, when it was in a severe state of disrepair, and over the years made it their mission to restore it.
Ms Baker wrote a book in 2009, Restoring a House, in which she describes how they tackled the daunting task of restoration and explores the house’s colourful history and architectural details.
The book also includes recipes for meals that would have been popular at the Cape at the time the house was built.
Ms Baker now stays in the east wing cottage which was built later, in 1820, with her three dogs, her antiques and many paintings of Klein Zoar that have been done over the years.