Author of book on upstate museums says sites deserve support
By Sue Cook, Staff reporter
CHILDS – Chuck D’Imperio is a man full of stories. Having been a radio broadcaster for over 25 years, as well as an author of upstate New York history, he has plenty to share.
D’Imperio was in Orleans County on Saturday to speak about his latest book-writing adventure, “Unknown Museums of Upstate New York: A Guide to 50 Treasures.”
D’Imperio takes many trips, often joined by his wife Trish, to write about local history in towns all across the upstate area. He initially discovered Albion when he wrote “Upstate New York in 100 Words or Less.” He chose 100 random towns and traveled to them just to find out what they had to offer.
Upon coming to Albion he was very impressed with the Courthouse Square with the beautiful courthouse building surrounded by magnificent churches. He commented that he had never seen anything like it before. “You have a lovely town and one of the loveliest communities,” he said during a book talk and dinner at Tillman’s Village Inn.
When he returned to the area to write the book about museums, he made several local stops. Just outside the county he visited the Holland Land Office Museum in Batavia and the Jell-O Factory in Le Roy. Inside Orleans County he visited the Cobblestone Museum in Childs and the Medina Railroad Museum in Medina. He stated the Cobblestone Museum is “charming, unique, and unusual.”
‘When they’re gone, they’re gone. I want people to know about the fragility of these museums. History lives. We all need to support it.’ – Author Chuck D’Imperio
D’Imperio’s publisher urged him to write the book and first submit 75 to 80 museums and then to cut it down to 50 for publishing. The Orleans County museums made it in with full write-ups, while others such as East Aurora had to be cut down to honorable mentions.
Bindings Bookstore hosted the event at The Village Inn, which is next to the Cobblestone Museum near the routes 104 and 98 intersection. Bookstore owner Carolyn Ricker organized the event for D’Imperio to speak within a stone’s throw of the museum. Ricker noted the Cobblestone Museum is one of the sites featured on the cover of the book.
D’Imperio used most of his talk to tell anecdotes about several of the museums he has visited. He talked about the Walter Elwood Museum of the Mohawk Valley. He had went there and within three weeks after his visit the museum and five others were destroyed by Hurricane Irene. The Mohawk Valley Museum was torn in half by the nearby river and the artifacts swept away.
D’Imperio asked his publishers to hold off printing the book for one year to allow the museums time to get back on their feet. After one year, all but the Mohawk Valley Museum had been brought back.
Just before the book was published, he received a call that the museum had been revived through the help of a network of museums across upstate New York. The museums offered artifacts they had to the newly built building on higher ground. D’Imperio included the story at the end of his book to make a powerful point.
“When they’re gone, they’re gone. I want people to know about the fragility of these museums,” he said. “History lives. We all need to support it.”
His book includes a general summary of the museums, a takeaway wrap-up, what he calls “a wow factor,” information about hours and address, and suggestions of other nearby attractions and locations to visit.
When people visit a museum they should ask questions – about anything and everything, he said. The staff and volunteers are happy to share their knowledge and educate anyone willing to listen.
For more information about Chuck D’Imperio and his books, visit http://upstatenewyorkbooks.vpweb.com/. ‘Unknown Museums’ is for sale at Bindings Bookstore in Albion, 28 West Bank St.