300-plus attended Cobblestone Museum open house

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 September 2022 at 5:08 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

GAINES – LeRoy Neeper of Medina shows people an International Harvester Model M 6-horsepower engine from 1922 on Saturday at the Cobblestone Museum.

The machine is in the Blacksmith Shop. The engine was used to power a pulley system for lathes, two table saws, a drill press, joiner and bandsaw.

Just over 300 people attended the open house that featured some old-time artisans. The event was sponsored by the Rochester Area Community Foundation, which covered the admission charge for everyone.

“I think it’s a tremendous asset for the community,” Neeper said about the museum, which is listed as a National Historic Landmark. “It’s history slipping away to modern technology. There’s not enough people with hands-on knowledge anymore.”

David Damico of Le Roy operates a Platen Press in the Print Shop. Damico has been a volunteer at the museum for seven years. He is a graphic media instructor at Finger Lakes Technical and Career Center in Stanley. He likes working with the old printing equipment.

“It prompts me to keep my hands inky,” he said. “I like the touch and feel of the type. It’s being a detail-oriented person versus a get-it-done person.”

He said the visitors seemed interested in seeing the manual process with movable type up close.

“I can explain the density of the ink,” he said. “This is a non air-conditioned environment so you are dealing with heat and the humidity.”

The print shop was built in 1875. It used to be in Medina, but was moved to the museum grounds on Route 98 in 1977.

Georgia Thomas of Medina shows sisters Erin and Lauren Allis of Medina how cream becomes butter. The two girls had to shake the cream for 10 minutes before it made a lump of butter.

“It’s nice for people to know what it takes to make their food,” Thomas said. “You should know what your ancestors did and you can reflect on what you’re doing today.”

There are butter churns at the Farmers Hall of the Museum, including one powered by a dog.

Judith Bromley of East Aurora answered questions in the Harness Shop. She is a qualified master saddle fitter with the Registered Society of Master Saddlers UK. She also is also a bridle fitter, bench and on-site flocker of saddles and is familiar with the shoemaking process and artifacts displayed in the Harness Shop.

George Borrelli demonstrated blacksmithing at the Blacksmith Shop. Borrelli has been blacksmithing for more than 30 years, starting with traditional ornamental work, garden gates, wine cellar gates and fireplace sets. For the past 20 years he has done more contemporary work.

The museum enjoyed a steady stream of visitors during the open house. There were docents also available for tours at the Cobblestone Church, Ward House (former parsonage), the schoolhouse and Vagg House.

Fiddlers of the Genesee performed to a crowd at the Cobblestone Church.

The Fiddlers of the Genesee have been frequent performers at the museum in recent years.

Bill Lattin, the retired museum director, has put together an exhibit “Victorian Mourning Art & Sundries” in the upper gallery at the Brick House.