We need your help to restore the storybook roof of the Tyringham Gingerbread House, a Berkshire treasure.
What makes the Gingerbread House at Santarella special?
In the early 1920s, sculptor Sir Henry Hudson Kiston began transforming an old dairy barn in the Tyringham Valley into an art studio inspired by his time in the English countryside. Affectionately known as the “Gingerbread House,” the most striking feature of his whimsical studio are it’s colorful asphalt shingled storybook roof that resembles the autumn leaves blowing in the wind. Giant stone buttresses, stained glass windows, and Gothic doors are additional architectural details that add to its uniqueness. Attached to the rear of the building Kitson constructed a 60-foot fairytale tower. The Gingerbread House is the focal point of Santarella. It draws thousands of onlookers each year from near and far to admire its beauty.
The Gingerbread House, 1940's
What are we raising money for?
To achieve the rolling storybook roof, Kitson utilized asphalt shingles molded onto a rolling, floating secondary roof. The exposure between shingles is very small creating overlapping sections in many spots 6 layers thick. While the roof has lasted 100 years, it is now in need of desperate replacement due to significant deterioration and leaking. Because of the roof’s uniqueness, how it was constructed, and the need for specialized roofers, the cost to restore it is estimated at $600,000.
The Gingerbread House, 2023
We are committed to honoring what Kitson created and ensuring the Gingerbread House can last on for future generations. We are exploring ways to decrease cost and multiple options for different materials. Driving up the cost will be the demolition and disposal of the existing roof. For us to begin phase 1 of the project (replace the front portion of the roof) to save the Gingerbread House, we need support from the community. As private homeowners of a historic property, there are limited grant and funding opportunities.
How would we like to share the Gingerbread House with the community once restored?
Once the restoration project is completed, we would like to use the Gingerbread House as a special events venue that supports visual and performing artists in creating, collaborating, and showcasing their work, along with hosting some community-focused events. We are excited to create a nonprofit that supports this mission, along with the continued maintenance and preservation of Santarella.
Purchasing Santarella was a dream come true for us. In 2019, we started talking about moving to a small town with a tight-knit community, bountiful outdoor activities and strong arts scene similar. We had our eyes set on the Hudson River Valley. That all changed when Josh stumbled upon a whimsical property in the Tyringham Valley in, the summer of 2020.
Josh was in the Berkshires visiting a friend that worked at a nearby summer camp. They were driving around the area when he said “Have I ever shown you the Gingerbread House?” Josh was intrigued so they drove by and Josh was instantly amazed. As fate would have it, the property was for sale. The wheels in Josh's mind started turning with the endless possibilities and how this was the perfect place to realize our dreams.
The next weekend Josh convinced Shaun to come to see the property and experience the surrounding Berkshire communities. As we began walking around the property together, we instantly started talking about what we wanted to do to restore and honor Kitson’s Legacy. In October 2020, we became the next stewards of Santarella.
Josh & Shaun, 2020