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Canton’s Birdsfoot Farm hopes to rebuild after Pink House burns

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CANTON - It was known a the “Pink House,” but Kerstin “Dulli” Tengeler also refers to it as the “Hippie House.”

The two-story house at Birdsfoot Farm, 1263 County Route 25, burned to the ground March 2, leaving the occupants, Rogerio Furtado and Zachary Reichenback, without a place to live and stirring memories for dozens of people who resided at the organic farm during the past 38 years.

It’s believed the blaze was ignited by home’s wood stove, according to Ms. Tengeler, who lives at Birdsfoot with her husband, Steven A. Molnar and their two children, Seba and Kira S. Molnar.

After calling 911, Birdsfoot residents watched helplessly as windows shattered from the home while it burned to the ground at about 8:30 p.m. Mr. Furtado and Mr. Reichenback were both in the farm’s Main House when the fire broke out. Two cats escaped uninjured.

“Within minutes it was raging. Within an hour, it was all the way down,” Ms. Tengeler said. “By the time the fire departments got here the house was already gone.”

Five volunteer departments responded including Canton, Pyrites, Hermon, Russell and Pierrepont.

The home was uninsured so funds are needed to rebuild a new house for Mr. Furtado and future Birdsfoot residents,including young people who travel to the area to intern there.

A fundraiser scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday will feature jazz music played Mrs. Tengeler’s son, Seba Molnar, an accomplished saxaphone player. He will be joined by Matt Bowman, a trumpet player, Dan Saulpough, guitar, Sam Whitesell, piano, Dan Gagliardi, bass and Sam Walukouw, drums.

The event is free, but donations will be accepted. It will be held at Eben Holden on the St. Lawrence University campus.

“We’re making this an opportunity to reconnect with friends,” Ms. Tengeler said. “We want people to share their stories about the Pink House. Many people who still live in the north country have lived there.”

Established in 1972, Birdsfoot is an organic farm where people interested in learning organic farming live and experience living together in a community.

Constructed in 1975 by George Hunt,a St. Lawrence University professor, the pink house was among the first homes built on the 73-acre Birdsfoot property. After the original pink paint faded, the home’s exterior displayed pockets of insulation that looked like yellow foam.

During the past three years, Mr. Furtado was working to upgrade the house by installing insulation and a new metal roof. He also fixed structural beams in the floor and replaced old windows.

“He was definitely bringing new life to a house that was pretty run down,” Mr. Molnar said.

Many young people who came to Birdsfoot for internships were placed in the 1,600 square-foot Pink House that was built with a post and beam frame.

Mr. Molnar said he’s hoping former Birdsfoot residents gather for next week’s fundraiser as well as other supporters.

“Most of the Birdsfooters that are easy to find we’ve reached out to,” Mr. Molnar said.

Birdsfoot Farm can be reached at 386-4852 or by email at birdsfootfarm@gmail.com.

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