Despite the snow outside it must be spring somewhere! And with the approach of the season our thoughts turn to a particularly exciting spring and summer at the Stone House. The Stone House is truly a busy place, filled with momentum and activity in all aspects of our mission and it is exciting to be part of such a vibrant organization! A lot has been happening with regards to the maintenance and preservation of our Museum, our finances, and of course, the social life of the Association, and we pause to look back on all the important work members of the Association have been doing during the long winter months and consider the current state of our Association.
After the Fair we had our annual Living History Days event in the fall, with a New England Harvest Theme. For this year’s Living History Days event we provided another activity relevant to Belchertown’s history: Bringing the House to Life: Harvest and Fall Activities in the 19th century New England home. Live reënactors, many dressed in period costumes, demonstrated and discussed many of the fall and Harvest activities that might have occupied residents of a house such as the Stone House in 19th century New England. Demonstrations and Lecture topics included Herb Gardening; Historic Farm Implements; Local Archaeology (thank you Lindsay Hoadley!); Preserving Herbs, Vegetables and Fruits; and other seasonal activities. The Stone House was open with a display of our nineteenth century farm equipment, our re-creation 19th century garden and house tours. This was a truly wonderful event: it was interesting, informative, entertaining, and very pertinent to our mission. We appreciate everyone’s support, and hope more families will note the first Saturday in October 2017, for a new installment of this quality event.
Following our Living History Event, it was time for our annual Yuletide Event, and many kudos are due to Sally Shattuck, Denise Smith, Maureen Austin, Carol Mierzewski, Gerri Amprimo, Becki Smith, Millie Harrington, Sally Shattuck (for the wonderful “Afghan Raffle”) (my mother won and loves it) and the whole committee for bringing off this event so beautifully. Our many elegant baskets, wreaths, and traditional crafts were the talk of the town and all who attended.
This year we attempted to reduce our winter expenses by limiting use of the Stone House during late December and January, but since then much work has been done by the Museum Committee and the Membership Committee, all of whom have worked tirelessly in their respective areas to make sure that the museum will be on a firm footing for the coming season. The Education Committee’s lecture series, in particular, was very well-received and provided an opportunity to hear lectures on many fascinating topics.
The Shattuck Maple Sugaring lecture on Feb. 26, a fun and delicious experience.
In the Stone House we have completed work for our Community Preservation grant addressing certain structural issues inside the museum. We are very grateful for the income from the Edward & Eleanor Schmidt Trust that has enabled us to acquire some really fascinating Belchertown artifacts, including a 1777 document signed by three Belchertown Selectmen, concerning re-imbursement for two Belchertown residents who carted goods for the Revolutionary War effort. We are also continually grateful for a bequest from Doris Dickinson that has enabled us to upgrade our ancient computer system. We will have a full report at our Annual Meeting, on April 30.
We have finally signed a purchase-and-sale agreement with the Belchertown Conservation Commission, which will acquire the Holland Glen property on Rt. 9 from the Stone House. We are thrilled that this property will be in the preservation and recreational plans of the town, and are pleased that our organization has been able to preserve it for this moment. We are also hopeful that we will be able to use the funds from the sale to further our Association’s unique mission.
The astute observer will have noticed by now that the roof structure is back on the Schoolhouse, which sits on cribbing, awaiting its new foundation sometime in the spring. This whole process is extremely complicated, and we continue to be extremely grateful to Bill Austin for all his help and guidance. Once the schoolhouse is on a foundation, the real restoration work can begin. We are grateful that Rob Hislop will be helping to guide us in various aspects of that complicated job. We continue to need help with fundraising, as none of us is an expert in this. To date only about 20 people have contributed toward this project, and we estimate that the whole project will cost about $150,000.
Of course, we have made time for a little fun this winter too, and thanks to our Fundraising Committee a wonderful time was had at the Eleventh Annual Mystery Dinner Theater held at the Knights of Columbus in Ware, with the actors from BUCC’s Playhouse performing a clever Italian-themed mystery.
It’s always a great year to be involved in local history, and the trustees and museum committee have been involved in too many projects to fully mention here.
One way you can support our mission is to renew your membership and include a donation in memory or in honor of someone special. If you need extra membership forms for friends, family or new acquaintances, just visit our website: stonehousemuseum.org/make-history-with-us.
We hope that this year will see an increase in attendance at the museum—and please don’t forget that we are always looking for cleaners, dusters, house-sitters and docents during the summer months. If you have time during the week or on Saturdays and an interest in becoming more involved with our museum please contact me at 413-323-0946. Other opportunities are outlined at our website: stonehousemuseum.org/volunteer.
As spring progresses we begin to look forward to our traditional springtime activities at the Stone House. We are hoping for a good turn-out at our Annual Meeting on April 30th, when we expect to vote on some changes to our bylaws regarding our committee structure. This is always a fun time to get together and take stock of all we have been doing as an Association, and enjoy each other’s company and wonderful desserts.
Also, our annual Opening Day Plant Sale, Crafters and Old Bag Sale, Saturday May 13th will be a wonderful day, and an opportunity to shop for your garden or closet while supporting your Association. We still need plants and crafters, so please read how you can help later on in the newsletter. Plans are also underway for our annual Members Only Cocktail Party in June, and the third Fall Living History Days event that will celebrate harvest-time activities and traditional New England crafting. Please mark your calendars and plan on attending these events!
With your help and support, this will be another year for the history books and the museum archives!