WARRENSBURG - Interest in bygone life in town is growing, and the local history museum may be open as soon as June, Warrensburgh Historical Society President Delbert Chambers said this week.
"It's good to see more and more people interested in preserving our town history," he said after he gave a report Feb. 19 during the society's annual meeting at which he recounted the group's accomplishments during 2008.
At the meeting, Warrensburgh Museum of Local History Director Steve Parisi reviewed the considerable work accomplished by about two dozen volunteers investing about 2,000 hours during 2008 to preserve the museum collection and prepare much of it for display.
The museum archives room was thoroughly organized, with each photograph, document, postcard and painting now able to be located by an identification number. Sandi Parisi created the system with the help of Rosemary Maher, Gail Epstein, Donna Wood and Aurelie Massimine. Inputing the data has been accomplished by Barbara Whitford, Gail Epstein, Rita Ferraro and Suzanne O'Dea, Steve Parisi said.
Antique clothing has been carefully cleaned and re-boxed for preservation or hung for display with the help of Liz Sebald and Phyllis Jacobs. Artifacts have been sorted, categorized and re-boxed by Suzanne O'Dea along with Tom O'Dea, Rosemary Maher and Rita Ferraro, he said.
The museum workers have now begun to plan and create final displays.
Research and interpretive writing for the exhibits is being conducted by Gail Epstein, Bob Knowles, Rita Ferraro, Rosemary Maher, Marilyn Hayes, Aurelie Massimine, Paul Gilchrist, Barbara Whitford, John Hastings, Delbert Chambers and Sandi Parisi.
Upgrades to the museum facility were also substantial during 2008, Parisi reported.
Display panel cases, and stations have been constructed and track lighting has been installed - with the work of Peter Wood, Gary Ferraro, Peter Haggerty, Walt Haws and Steve Parisi.
A faux Victorian porch was constructed by John Hastings and Peter Wood, with embellishment by Dana Westcott. Westcott also created an archway in the museum that replicates architecture of the Emerson House, a Warrensburg landmark.
Chambers praised the progress made by during 2008 in the museum, with the substantial work of Parisi and a dozen or so volunteers.
"Were making every effort to bring the museum into the 21st century," Chambers said.
Among the hundreds of items to be displayed or archived in the museum are about 150 items donated this year by 11 citizens. Donors include John Hastings, Michael Morey, the DeMatties family, Jane LeCount, Dawn Brunner, Bob and Peggy Knowles, Tack Toney, Suzanne Henderson, Elizabeth Osborne Sebald and Sandra LaFond.
Progress in preserving local history has also been accomplished in other ways, Chambers said.
One example he cited was the indexing of all articles published in the society's Quarterly by volunteer Roscoe Hastings, he said.
Society Vice President Rosemary Maher reviewed the programs of the year, including the re-dedication of the restored Bicentennial mural, a presentation on the architecture of Warrensburg in June given by Del Chambers, October's Graveyard Walks and Dinner with the Dead, and the annual "Sticky Wicket" croquet tournament in August - which had substantial attendance. The Sticky Wicket event has raised a considerable amount of money, Chambers said, due to substantial support from area businesses.
"It's been a fantastic success," he said.
At the meeting, Parisi presented numbers that indicate membership has grown substantially -- as much at 50 percent -- over the past several years.
Chambers welcomed the news.
"Our treasury is running in the black, and we have more members," he said. "It's a beautiful thing."
Monday, Steve Parisi praised those volunteers who were not serving on the historical society's board of directors, but have nonetheless invested hundreds of hours of work. They include Rosemary Maher, John Hastings, Rita Ferraro, Peter Wood, Dana Westcott and Mary Lovendusky, he said.
"It's very fortunate that we have people on board who are willing to dedicate their time to the museum," he said. "They have contributed countless hours of their time and talents."
Chambers said the development of the museum had taken longer than expected, but that it was being accomplished appropriately to high standards.
"The town will be proud of the museum, and we expect it to draw interest from outside the community," he said.