PERU - Their dream will soon be a reality.
As each day goes by, Leeward C. Babbie of Peru and his nephew, Rick Laurin of Chazy, are getting closer to the opening of the Babbie Rural and Farm Learning Museum. The museum, which will be located on Babbie's former dairy farm on River Road, has been a plan the two have had in the works for some time to showcase the agricultural history of the North Country.
In January, the two scored what they consider a major win for the museum. The state Department of Education recently awarded the museum its charter as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which both feel will help gain financial support for the museum.
"What that does is opens us up for accepting donations that people can use for tax write-offs," explained Laurin.
Most recently, Babbie and Laurin were awarded a $625 grant from the Upstate History Alliance, an organization which "provides support, advice and training to historical societies, museums, historians, archivists, and other heritage organizations in New York State." The grant will be used to send Laurin to a three-day seminar that will help with the opening of the new museum.
"There's a whole bunch of topics from laying out museums to working with donors in the modern economy," said Laurin.
The process of opening the museum has moved along much faster than Babbie and Laurin originally thought it would.
"The average museum takes three to five years to open. We're going to open in 18 months," said Laurin. "We've had people who can't believe it happened so fast for us."
"We can't wait for the day," said Babbie, who has been working diligently with Laurin in recent months to prepare for a June opening.
"There aren't enough weekends," Babbie said with a laugh, referring to the time he's been working on the project.
The museum will consist of several buildings, including a milk house, hay barn, animal barn, granary, manger, and displays of antique farm equipment. A full conference room will also be available to companies for a modest fee and potentially free for nonprofit organizations.
"This is going to be a nice room," said Babbie, as he stood in the presently unfinished room.
"It's coming along," agreed Laurin.
Overall, the two, along with a band of faithful volunteers, are working hard to make good use of the space.
"It's tough though," said Laurin. "We really want to get a grant for another building, and we're looking at other options. But, we have to use the space we have."
"It's using what you have and using it well," added Laurin.
Laurin and Babbie said they anticipate a a grand opening the weekend of Saturday, June 12, and Sunday, June 13. The event, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days, will feature a book signing by Dr. Joseph Burke. Burke recently published a book about the late William H. Miner, a man well-known locally in the agricultural field.
The museum will also open its doors the weekend before, Saturday, June 5, to participate in Clinton County Museum Day. That day will feature open houses at museums across the county, explained Laurin.
"We're really excited about that," he said.
Museum memberships are available by contacting Laurin at 846-7269 or Babbie at 643-9252.
Donations to the museum may be mailed in care of Babbie Rural and Farm Learning Museum, 250 River Road, Peru N.Y. 12972.