TICONDEROGA - On July 1, 1927, the steam ship Sagamore left Ticonderoga's Baldwin dock in heavy fog. It never reached Lake George village.
The 223-foot ship, capable of carrying 1,500 people, struck ledges near Anthony's Nose and began taking on water. It was quickly navigated to Glenburnie in the town of Putnam where it was purposely ran aground to prevent its sinking.
Local residents mounted a rescue effort, using row boats to get passengers ashore.
Photos of the event are part of Putnam's history now on display at the refurbished and renovated Church School.
Located next to the Putnam Presbyterian Church at 365 Co. Rt. 2, the museum opened this summer. Open noon to 3 p.m. on Sundays through Columbus Day, it features artifacts, written histories and pictures of Putnam's history.
The museum collection was obtained and organized by the Putnam senior citizens club.
"It's really been a great project," said Katherine Gosselink. "People think seniors don't do anything but play bingo. Well, we do more. This has been a lot of work, but it's been very rewarding."
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.
Working on the project were Gosselink, Wayne Austin, Gladys Bain, Belva Blood, Carolyn Charlton, James Carrie, Angie Dedrick, Mary Jane Dedrick, Sandy Granger, Shirley Husfelt, Ed Moore, Myrtle McIntyre, Joan Rock, Robert Rock, Norman Thomas and Dorothy Thomas.
"People don't realize how much we have here," Gosselink said. "They stop in expecting to spend 10 minutes and realize they don't have the time to see it all. Most people have to come back."
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.
"Some of the photos are really touching," Gosselink said. "One woman found a photo of her mother walking to school, carrying her lunch box with her dog. She cried."
Money for the museum display came from the town of Putnam.
Putnam traces its history to 1771 when William Hutton was given land to build a school and a church. The result is the Putnam Presbyterian Church and the adjacent schoolhouse. Putnam formally became a town in 1806.
For information on the Church School call Gosselink and 547-9936 or Joan Rock at 547-8990.