Walk the Halls Of History
On March 23 2017, Rest Haven's long awaited recognition to her contribution to society as an Adult Home Residence for the Blind, Disabled and etc has become the next milestone as an historical site in Monroe New York. There are two historical designations being awarded: 1) Criterion C: "in the area of Architecture, as a substantially intact example of Colonial Revival-style domestic design erected ca 1903" and 2) Criterion A: "in the area of Health/Medicine, for its role as Rest Haven, which provided a place of retreat and respite for the blind." (William E. Krattinger 2017 Nomination papers) NYS Preservation Analysis, William Krattinger and Committee, recommending that Rest Haven should be looked at as a National Landmark.
Preservation of Rest Haven has been organized to restore the original Rest Haven Home for the Blind to its original glory days. Rest Haven, Inc. has assembled and will continue to assemble a fascinating collection of information from a number of sources to illustrate the history of this "Stately Mansion" (1903). In 1923, the house was named as one of the most beautiful Homes in Monroe. Helen Keller served as a board trustee and worked to keep Rest Haven's doors open until her death in 1968. On March 23 2017, exactly one year to the day that we signed the contract to buy the property, Rest Haven was designated an historical site.
Rest Haven, Inc.'s hope is to complete its restoration to educate and inspire future generations to come.
The Rest Haven Legacy
In 1921, M.C. Migel started the American Foundation for the Blind(AFB) with $7,000. He is the founder and first president for the AFB. In 1923, the Migel family purchased the building with its five acres from the McKendrick estate for about $1,000. In 1924, Migel conveyed this property to Rest Haven, Inc. Many local names were attached to this creation of Rest Haven. The facility was personally designed and decoracted for the purpose of bringing adult blind women to the area for a period of two weeks. In 1944, Rest Haven Inc conveyed title of the property to the American Foundation for the Blind. On June 1 1968, Helen Keller died. On November 1968, the Lantz family purchased the property but never modified the property in any way. In 1986, the Lantz family sold the property to Arhc of Orange County, Newburgh New York. The property served as the first office location for Ahrc of Orange County. In April 2016, HRR Corp, the buyer, learned about the history of Helen Keller. On September 13 2016, HRR Corp purchased the property from Ahrc of Orange County. They began this crusade to preserve and renovate the property back to its original condition. On Decemeber 29 2016, after a visit from NYS Historical Society, the property owner was notified that the location is up for nomination as an historical site.
In addition, Mr. M.C. Migel owned other property nearby including the Roscoe House on Lake Road to Mansion Ridge Golf Course (formerly known as Mansion Estate and Family). The library of Congress has files on its website showing the areas M.C. Migel owned. We have also verified that Helen Keller did sleep at Mansion Estate and Family as a guest of the Migel family.
Helen Keller's Life and Legacy
Formerly a home for the blind in Monroe, New York, Rest Haven, Inc., is a historical building owned by HRR Corp. Having been locked away for a long time, it is their goal to renovate the property to capture its original look while promoting its historical significance and the impact that inspirational American author and teacher Helen Keller had on the blind community who lived there.
From 1923 to 1968, Rest Haven functioned as a home for blind women. Historical information has shown that Helen Keller had a large impact on the management of the home, serving as a board trustee until her death in 1968. HRR Corp. is dedicated to preserving this invaluable historical site by reopening its doors and allowing the public to walk the grounds that Helen Keller once did.
Internal memos obtained from the American Foundation for the Blind shows that Helen Keller was, in fact, more involved in the running of the facility than was previously known. As the first president of the American Foundation for the Blind, M.C. Migel understood the importance of Keller's support for the foundation, and he assisted her in becoming a board trustee. Internal memos dated from 1933 to 1968 illustrate her active involvement in the operation of Rest Haven until the end of her life.
We know that our children have studied the history of Helen Keller in school. Rest Haven, Inc. wants our children, and your children, to not only learn about the inspirational Keller, but to walk the grounds where she walked, and stand on the very stoop where she stood in 1950 with 20 other blind women from New York City. We want future generations to be able to walk the halls that she walked for so many years from 1933 to 1968. Rest Haven, Inc.'s goal is that our children not only read about Helen Keller's greatness, but walk in her footsteps among the grounds that have been locked away for so long.
Inspired by his three daughters, April, Kimberly, and Katie, Mr. Timothy Mitts, head of Rest Haven, Inc.'s restoration efforts, hopes to unlock a piece of history that had been lost over time. April is helping with the project, while her sisters Kimberly and Katie complete their RN degrees from Pace University™. Though many are familiar with the life and legacy of Helen Keller, Rest Haven Inc. is honored to be renovating this historical site for others to enjoy, while gaining inspiration from its historical importance and beauty.