Grant enables museum to restore paintings

Harrybrooke Park & Harden House Museum in New Milford has announced the restoration of two of its original James Gale Tyler paintings.

The restoration work, made possible through a grant from the New Milford Commission on the Arts, was completed by Yost Restoration.

The paintings are estimated to be more than 100 years old and may not be listed with Frank Acheson Harden’s collections.

In 1965, on his passing, Frank left the park and his home as a museum to the people of New Milford and surrounding communities

Harden and his wife, Elizabeth, built Harrybrooke as their weekend estate that was used from 1941-65.

With some master copies and some originals that have faced the test of time, the museum is now taking steps to restore the artwork to its original beauty.

Yost removed soot, dirt, nicotine and an aging varnish that also yellows and pools on the paintings.

They have also repaired structural cracks and corrected the structure of the paintings.

“The museum has been through serious repair and upkeep over the last 12 years,” said Billy Buckbee, executive director. “While the former home of Frank and Elizabeth Harden has come back to life, the paintings have certainly suffered.”

“When we received the first painting back, it was breathtaking and inspiring,” he said. “I stared at the clipper ship in the painting and said 'This is what it looked like when Frank first hung this up!'”

“It truly does change the look of the room,” Buckbee said. “We cannot thank the New Milford Commission on the Arts enough because this gift goes far beyond those dollars."

The museum is looking for help to restore more of the work in the Harden House Museum.

“This is only the beginning, but we need help from those who appreciate art, conserving history and bringing these paintings back to life,” he said.

“The original colors are vibrant and powerful, but as a non-profit, we have to be careful where any raised dollars go for the grounds and regular upkeep,” he said.

“We are looking for those who would like to help us preserve and protect the art itself for future generations to enjoy and learn from,” he said.

Harden was an industrialist and owner of the Acheson Harden Handkerchief Factory in Passaic, N.J., the world's largest handkerchief factory.

He maintained residence in New York City for his entire life, but built Harrybrooke as his weekend estate in 1941.

The Harden estate also left a sizable donation the New Milford VNA.

Donations can be made at or by mailing a check to Harrybrooke Park, P.O. Box 364, New Milford, CT 06776.

Tour hours may vary but scheduled tours are available to book.

Harrybrooke Park and Harden House Museum receives no regular town, state or federal funding and maintains through fund raisers and the gifts of the general public.