This week we have another terrific blog post from Lynne Perella. She shares how she and photographer, B Docktor, created a new Local Historical exhibit in the vestibule of the Ancram Town Hall. It is beautiful. How special this is and how proud I am of local citizens who do this…kudos to B and Lynne!
(please click photos to enlarge)
Ancram Town Hall is ten years old. And, just like a private home, the building has become more personal and “lived in” with each passing year. When it was time to touch up the exterior paint job, a group of volunteers did the work, while others formed the cheering section and provided snacks and wrote checks to pay for the supplies. Our memorial walkway and flagpole at the entrance of the building was the brainstorm of local Eagle Scout Carl Jamieson…..and an historic album quilt originally created by Ancram residents in 1856 is displayed in our Meeting Room, after being expertly restored thanks to donated funds. A colorful new playground is now located behind the building; just one more example of how a generic structure eventually reflects the inhabitants of a town, and becomes more homelike as a result.
While I thought about where I could create a permanent Local History exhibit, highlighting the archives of our historian Clara Van Tassel, I wandered into the outer vestibule of our Town Hall and realized that this unused, unappreciated all-white space would be the perfect. With the thumbs-up from Supervisor Art Bassin and the Town Board, I devised a concept for the space that would be a reflection of our unique past, present and future. According to a recent census, our town is an equal blend of farmers and artists/writers – and I wanted the new exhibition space to reflect these diverse-but-compatible influences. Vintage barn board panels, gooseneck industrial lighting, and a painted/stenciled floor are echoes of our rural history; while an upbeat burst of color is added with a photo mural that encircles the room, featuring amazing work by B Docktor. Vintage thresher floor boards were fashioned into shelves on both sides of the space, to display exhibit text and more graphics, and I included a glass display case where I could create tableaus of dimensional items. And, if you look straight UP you will find the old school bell that hung in the cupola of our former town hall on Country Route 7. Happily, the space already had generous-sized windows providing a very “Ancram” touch of sun-dappled greenery. Working with a talented and good-natured group….including Perry Rollins, Kyle Lougheed, Clara Van Tassel, the aforementioned B Docktor, Jane Shannon and others, it was rewarding to transform the previously-undistinguished space into a warm, welcoming, personal environment.
The first exhibit, “Celebrating Ancram’s Schoolhouses” provides a flavor of what it was like to attend the one-room schoolhouses in Ancram, and features class photos, maps, treasured ephemera, historic archives and ledgers, accounts of spirited class plays as well as sentimental recollections from long-ago. (Surprisingly, every one of the old schoolhouses still stand, although they are now private homes.)
The best lesson I learned about local history? – It keeps happening. Everyone in the community has something of value to contribute…..and it all adds up to this small town that we love….Ancram.
(click images to enlarge)