Mothers are welcome to tour historic site and see exhibitions for free on May 14
CHILDS — Sunday is Mother’s Day, which is also the traditional kick off of a new season at the Cobblestone Museum.
The museum is opening a new season with an exhibit from “Sunday Painters of Yesteryear” and a display of coverlets and quilts from the museum’s and community members’ collections. Mothers will be welcomed to the historic complex for free, and also will be given a flower. Opening day is from 1 to 5 p.m.
The museum this year also is offering free admission throughout the season for children 12 and under who are accompanied by an adult.
The museum is a National Historic Landmark with a collection of more than a dozen structures near the intersection of routes 98 and 104. The Cobblestone Universalist Church, built in 1834, is the oldest cobblestone church in North America. The church will host the art exhibit and display of quilts and coverlets.
The “Sunday Painters” feature more than 50 paintings from people with no formal training in art. The artists painted for fun, often on a Sunday. The paintings were collected by Rene Schasel and Bill Lattin, the retired museum director. (There will be a First Friday reception for the exhibit on June 2 in the evening.)
The museum hired a new director for this season. Doug Farley started on March 1. He said he has developed a greater appreciation for the museum’s local, regional and national importance.
“Now that I’m seeing the great asset that we have and its potential as a heritage tourism destination is exciting,” Farley said. “The museum tells of the influence from the opening of the Erie Canal. Farmers could afford to build nice houses because they had a market for their goods. It speaks of the great wealth of the area after the canal opened.”
Farley and the museum’s leaders would like to see the historic site have a greater role in promoting heritage tourism locally. The museum is planning a VIP celebration on June 14 to share a vision for the future, which would include a new visitor’s/welcome center for the area.
That building is eyed for behind the Ward House on Route 104, where current restrooms are located. If the project becomes a reality, Farley said those restrooms and a next-door outhouse could be relocated to the cobblestone schoolhouse down the road.
The June 14 event at the Daughters of the American Revolution is an opportunity for feedback on the visitor center, and to see if there would be community support for the project.
The museum is also working to keep up the existing historic structures. Some of the windows in the church will be repaired and repainted this year. The Ward House also is receiving new steps and drainage improvements to protect the building.
The museum is pursuing other grants and support to help maintain the historic site, including an engineering assessment of Farmers’ Hall on Route 98 near Proctor Brook.
The museum was established by the Cobblestone Society in 1960 and opened for its first tour in 1961.
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