When Katherine Gosselink asked me to meet her at the Church School in Putnam, I had to admit the truth. I didn't know where it is located.
For years my trips south of Ticonderoga have seldom ventured off Route 22. If I did venture off the main road, it was only as far as Putnam Central School for the annual community Thanksgiving celebration.
Gosselink was quick to point out, correctly, I had missed a great opportunity to learn more about a wonderful place.
Luckily, Gosselink and her fellow Putnam senior citizens have a solution for hapless and clueless visitors like myself - the Church School.
Located next to the Putnam Presbyterian Church at 365 Co. Rt. 2, has been made into a wonderful museum of local history. It features artifacts, written histories and pictures of the community's history.
It's worth the detour from Route 22, but if you go you must hurry. The museum closes for the season tomorrow. It will re-open in the spring noon to 3 p.m. Sundays.
The museum collection was obtained and organized by the Putnam senior citizens club.
The museum is true to its roots as a school. It is set up as a classroom with desks, blackboards and a pot belly stove. Along the walls are displays detailing Putnam's past, including old photos, newspaper articles, letters from old residents, maps, brochures, and school attendance records.
The exhibit includes the wood shed where students kept their coats and used the privies - an upscale outhouse.
Owned by the Putnam Presbyterian Church, the Church School was one of seven one-room schoolhouses in the community before Putnam Central School was organized in 1928.
The third of three Church Schools, the current building was constructed in 1880 and had fallen into disrepair.
Tom Cummings led the building restoration effort that was completed Oct. 6, 2008. The building was then turned over to the senior group.
"All seniors have boxes of pictures and papers they're saving," Gosselink said. "We thought they would make a great collection for a museum."
With that idea work started.
"Since this is an old schoolhouse we decided to display the history of Putnam the way a teacher would present it to a class," Gosselink said. "It was more work that anticipated, but I think it turned out very well."
In fact, the Church School received the 2009 Washington County Advisory Council on History Preservation Award.
Putnam's senior citizens should be proud of their work and the community should be proud of its museum. It's worth the trip off the beaten path.
Fred Herbst is Times of Ti editor. He can be reached at email@example.com