WARRENSBURG - For about six years, local history buffs have worked gathering artifacts - sorting, researching and and cataloguing them for posterity.
Others have joined them in their work to re-invent the Warrensburgh Museum of Local History, constructing displays, exhibits and environments that will help generations to come fully comprehend day-to-day life in bygone days.
The refurbished museum was reopened last year to considerable acclaim, but some visitors might not have fully realized the many hours that went into the museum's revival.
But in recent weeks, because of a decision by the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce, this work will not go unnoticed.
The Chamber board of directors decided that the members of the Warrensburgh Historical Society should be named collective Citizens of the Year for their work, primarily on the museum, which the society officially took responsibility for in 2004.
Historical Society President Paul Gilchrist said Tuesday the award was well-received by the society's membership, now 216 strong.
"Certainly, this is wonderful recognition for the Historical Society and the museum," he said, adding it was appreciated that the Chamber of Commerce realized what society members have accomplished in the museum's revitalization.
Gilchrist said that dozens of people invested a lot of hours into refurbishing the museum.
"Not long ago, the museum was a beehive of activity for a year or so, with 15 or more volunteers working at a time, several days per week, on renovating the facility," he said.
Museum Director Steve Parisi, and his wife Sandi Parisi, town historian, are among those who've invested thousands of hours into the work.
Parisi said Tuesday that it was very fitting that the
Chamber bestowed the award on the members of the Warrensburgh Historical Society, as the Chambers's very first Citizen of the Year award, in the late 1970s, was given to Isabel Cornell, founder of the museum.
"The town has a wonderful history, and were pleased to be able to show it to both local people and tourists," Parisi said, noting that the revitalized museum has sparked considerable enthusiasm from the many students - both high-school and elementary pupils - who have visited it this past year. "The work of the volunteers allows young people know what a glorious history Warrensburg has enjoyed for more than 200 years."
Without referring to a roster, Parisi mentioned a number of the local citizens who have invested considerable work in the revitalization process - Rosemary Maher, Rita Ferraro, Gary Ferraro, Peter Wood, Frank Bennett, John Hastings, Jackie Leonbruno, Paul Gilchrist, Barbara Whitford, Dana Wescott Mural, and Mary Lovendusky, Delbert Chambers and Bonnie Cleavland.
Most all these people spent countless hours gathering, verifying and cataloguing thousands of artifacts, photographs, maps, quilts, postcards and books - putting some aside for restoration and preservation measures. Then, after considerable research, the volunteers helped design spaces and exhibits, and prepared narrative text and signage so people could best understand the context and significance of the artifacts. Then, the volunteers, primarily Historical Society members, constructed new exhibits.
Parisi added that the town's parks & recreation employees deserve credit for their work repairing and restoring the interior of the museum building.
Wescott crafted the decorative trim on the Victorian porch setting in the museum, as well as building the children's play table. Lovendusky, who restored the renowned Bicentennial Mural on the side of the museum building, spend hundreds of hours painting the faux stonework of that Victorian porch.
"It is gratifying that the hard work of all these people is being recognized," Parisi said.
Both Parisi and Gilchrist credited all the society members, and other townspeople, who have for years committed their support to preserving the town's rich history.
Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce President Cheryl Kenyon said the Historical Society had developed a substantial community asset in the Museum and deserved the recognition.
"They're doing a wonderful job," she said, deferring credit for the Citizen of the Year decision to her board members, Dan West, Shawn Dempsey, Todd Trulli, Faith Buck, and Jo Piera.
'Citizen of the Year' banquet is Friday June 18
The Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce will be formally presenting the 2010 Citizens of the Year award at a banquet set for Friday June 18 at Grace's Restaurant, across from the Floyd Bennett Bandstand in Warrensburg.
Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres begin at 6 p.m. and dinner is at 7 p.m. The cost is $25 per person, dessert included. For reservations, contact the Chamber of Commerce at 623-2161.
Citizen of the Year
2009 Peter Haggerty
2008 Bunny Gonzalez & Kathy Quintal
2007 Jan Higgins
2006 Lenore Smith
2000 Andy Sprague
1996 Austin Perry
1995 Jerry Quintal
1994 Fred Lamy
1993 Jack Toney
1992 Jim Baker
1991 Lorraine Morey
1990 Louise Hall
1989 Calvin & Jeannette Engle
1988 Mabel Tucker
1987 Maurice Richards
1986 Jeanne Cameron
1985 Charlie Hastings
1984 Steve Parisi
1983 Warrensburg Fire Co. members
1982 Jane LeCount
1981 Florence LaPoint
1980 Warrensburg Senior Citizens
1979 Isabel Cornell