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The Huguenot and New Rochelle Historical Association (HNRHA) and the Thomas Paine National Historical Association (TPNHA) have come together to create the Thomas Paine International Historical Center (TPIHC). The primary purpose of the Center will be to promote the historical importance of Thomas Paine – internationally, nationally, and locally -- and to provide programming, space for events, and a platform to educate the world about Thomas Paine.
Situated on opposite sides of the Thomas Paine Monument (1839), the oldest memorial to a US Founding Father, the HNRHA offers the Paine Cottage, the only surviving home of Thomas Paine, and the TPNHA offers its Thomas Paine Memorial Building (TPMB), constructed in 1925 as a meeting center and exhibit area. The new Paine Center will build on more than a century of contributions by the TPNHA in educating the world about Thomas Paine and by the HNRHA in promoting public understanding about Paine as well as the rich history of New Rochelle.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer expressed his congratulations to the two historical Associations: “New Rochelle has long been associated with the great works of Thomas Paine – and this newly forged partnership will only enhance the public’s knowledge of this important historical site. When Paine famously wrote that ‘these are the times that try men's souls,’ his words were steeped in the challenges facing our young nation. These are words we must still live by today as we face our own tests as a society. Gaining a better understanding of the figures who battled large obstacles in our history benefits our collective future.”
The new collaboration reflects a change of direction for the TPNHA from an earlier decision to sell the Building. According to Gary Berton, President of the TPNHA, “Together we plan to create the only Center dedicated to the purpose of educating the world about Paine, undertaking activities designed to further the maxim that no democracy can survive without an educated populace."
Gary Bush, President of the HNRHA, welcomes the TPNHA decision to retain the Paine Memorial Building. “With community support, we will be able to merge our efforts to maintain our respective infrastructure and programs, gain additional resources, and more effectively promote the Paine heritage and other aspects of New Rochelle history for the benefit of the City and beyond.”
Geraldine Kaplan, co-Chair of the Committee to Save the Thomas Paine Memorial Building, also welcomes the decision. "We are pleased to see that the Building is no longer at risk of being sold and that its future will be secured. We are proud of the work done by our Committee toward achieving that goal and increasing community support for preservation of the unique Paine historical sites."
The Thomas Paine Memorial Building (TPMB), together with the historic Paine Cottage and the Paine Monument, offer a natural infrastructure for education, tourism, and events promoting knowledge, awareness, and world citizenship, all within a single block centrally located on North Avenue in New Rochelle. Conferences, festivals, educational programming for local schools, and literary seminars and talks will be held, along with tours of the Cottage Museum and adjacent sites. The Memorial Building will also be available by agreement for other events organized by area non-profits.
The collaboration of the two Associations will be codified in a memorandum of understanding, and they will form a joint Advisory Board to provide support for the activities of the TPIHC, including members of their respective Boards along with community leaders, historians, and others. The Advisory Board will help with program planning, fundraising, publicity, and mobilizing volunteers. Donations in support of the new Paine Center may be made on-line either to the TPNHA www.thomaspaine.org or to the HNRHA/Thomas Paine Cottage Museum, www.thomaspainecottage.org, and may be designated for the TPIHC and agreed joint projects.