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The future of Agecroft Hall

Old barn waits for new home


"The story began for me in a garbage can," says Richard Moxley, the executive director of Agecroft Hall, a reconstructed Tudor manor in Windsor Farms. In 1991, Moxley reached into a trashcan for a piece of scrap paper and pulled out a treasure.

The front-page article in Florida Brit Newspaper, a British publication in Orlando, headlined "Little England to be Levelled," caught Moxley's eye. In 1979, Lewis Cartier purchased 1,350 acres across the street from Disney World and designed a theme park of reconstructed 16th- and 17th-century English homes and barns. By 1983, the plans fell to pieces and Cartier abandoned his dream. In 1991, new development and new road links to Disney's town of Celebration required that the unfinished park be leveled.

As Moxley read about the buildings set for demise, he realized that this could be a godsend for Agecroft Hall, which houses a living history museum and hosts theater productions each year. "It was kind of like a dream," he remembers. "I thought to myself, 'Is this something I can really do? Can I rescue the village?'" Moxley took a trip to Florida to find out.

Most of the buildings' exteriors had decayed rapidly in Florida's harsh environment, but Moxley found some salvageable interior wood. Then he learned that there was yet another building, never erected and still in storage, being sold in pieces to local pubs as decoration. Moxley asked Floribra, the company that now owned Cartier's doomed parkland, to donate what was left of the barn to Agecroft Hall. Moxley obtained all of the barn that could fit on two tractor-trailers. He stored the old wood in yet another warehouse.

This was all nine years ago. Today, Moxley is bringing the news to the public for the first time. "This was a wonderful opportunity but it didn't come at a time that I thought we would be able to build it without sacrificing things that I thought had a higher priority," Moxley says. Moxley and the board at Agecroft are just now deciding what will come of the timber, and are just now ready to tell the barn's history, and soon, its future. Some of the possibilities are a theater, a living history exhibit, or a multipurpose area for lectures, dances, and theater productions. Until they decide for sure, the barn will sit, aging still, in crates on the south end of the Manchester Bridge. But in the life span of a centuries-old barn, a few more years are nothing more than the blink of an eye.

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