Cobblestone Museum hires co-directors

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 February 2014 at 12:00 am

Matt Ballard and Sarah Karas will share workload

Cobblestone Church

Photo by Tom Rivers – The Cobblestone Society Museum includes several buildings on Route 104 and Route 98 in the Childs hamlet, including this Universalist Church that was built in 1834, the oldest cobblestone church in North America.

GAINES – Two Albion residents with a love for history have been hired as co-directors of the Cobblestone Society Museum, a National Historic Landmark in the Gaines hamlet of Childs.

Matthew Ballard and Sarah Karas will share the workload in managing the museum, which opens on Mother’s Day and closes on Columbus Day weekend.

The museum director job is high demand in the spring, summer and fall with the activity slowing during the winter.

Ballard and Karas both work as librarians. Ballard is library supervisor for Hilbert College in Hamburg. Karas works as a reference librarian at Genesee Community College. Both Ballard and Karas impressed museum board members during the interview process, said Susan Rudnicky, president of the museum board of directors.

“Both have their strengths – and their strengths are not the same as each other’s,” Rudnicky said. “We wanted so many skills to run the museum that it would probably have been impossible to get them all in one person. By selecting Matt and Sarah both, we are getting a larger selection of those skills than by just taking one of them.”

Karas brings a teaching background to the museum while Ballard has been focused on research and history.

By sharing the workload, the two can both keep their other jobs, Rudnicky said. They both started at the museum last week.
“They will be responsible for deciding who does which parts of the job, and ultimately their job titles will reflect those differences,” she said.

Karas graduated from the University at Buffalo in May 2012 with a master’s degree in Library and Information Science. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Oneonta State College in May 2010 in Adolescent English Education. She has a state teaching certificate in English for grades 7-12 and in School Library for grades K-12.

She has volunteered at the museum for the past three years giving tours, organizing the book sale, cataloging historic books, and completing other tasks.

Ballard received a Bachelor of Science in History from Brockport State College in 2010, studying Colonial American and New York State history. In 2012, Ballard graduated from the University at Buffalo with a Master of Library Science. He focused on archival and records management.

For the past eight years, he has been active in the study of local history. He has served on the board of the Orleans County Genealogical Society and has contributed time with Orleans County Historical Association, the Cobblestone Society Museum, and with local preservation efforts.

He teaches genealogical research and has spoken at numerous events and programs throughout the tri-county area on local history subjects. He has developed a web site,, about the Polish-American community in Albion.

Rudnicky and the Cobblestone board believe the new directors will bring the museum to a new generation of users. The site is the only National Historic Landmark in Orleans County.

“Their combined skills will enable the museum to continue our mission into the future, and expand how we share museum treasures with the local and wider community,” Rudnicky said.