Cobblestone Museum honors key supporters who stepped up in 2020

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 November 2020 at 11:29 am

Museum planned to celebrate 60th anniversary this year, but instead will do in 2021 when it hopes there will be fewer Covid restrictions

Photos by Tom Rivers: Bob Fisher of Robert Fisher Contracting Inc. in Kendall is about 26 feet up high on Dec. 16, 2019, working on the base of the bell tower roof at the Cobblestone schoolhouse. Fisher has worked on several projects for the museum in recent years, doing quality work at an affordable price. Fisher received the museum’s “Business Partner of the Year” Award for 2020.

GAINES – The Cobblestone Museum held its 60thannual meeting on Saturday and the organization honored key supporters who backed the museum during a difficult year with Covid-19 restrictions.

Gerard Morrisey was recognized as the Cobblestone Museum’s 2020 volunteer of the year on Saturday.

• Volunteer of the Year: The museum didn’t do any large group tours this past year, but still managed 42 tours. Gerard Morrisey led a third of the tours and he was named Volunteer of the Year. He did the tours while wearing a face mask, and insisted on social distancing, wearing of masks and sanitizers for the people on the tours, said Sue Bonafini, the museum’s assistant director and volunteer coordinator.

Morrisey has been a “standout docent” for the museum for several years, Bonafini said. He also won volunteer of the year in 2018.

Usually the museum begins hosting tours of its campus in May. The restrictions from Covid-19 pushed back tours until mid-July. Morrisey was one of five docents who led tours this year after being trained under the new safety guidelines.

Morrisey also served a mentor to interns who trained to lead tours and shadowed Morrisey.

The museum depends on the trained volunteers for the tours, which are critical to sharing the museum’s story with the public.

“Docents meet visitors of all ages and provide a personalized, informative and interpretive experience,” Bonafini said.

Bob Fisher heads down a ladder while working on the bell tower roof in December 2019 for the Cobblestone Schoolhouse, which was built in 1849 and is part of the Cobblestone Museum, a National Historic Landmark on Route 104.

• Business Partner of the Year: The museum recognized Bob Fisher, owner of Robert M. Fisher Contracting in Kendall, as the Business Partner of the Year.

Fisher has used his carpentry skills on several projects at the museum in recent years. This past year he and his son restored and painted the trim on the Farmers Hall, sided the west wall, and installed gutters and a drainage system. Russ Bosch, chairman of the museum’s Buildings and Grounds Committee, said the project resulted in an “impressive transformation of the building.”

Fisher also reroofed the harness and print shops, installed a gutter on the east side of the Brick House, and is making and installed a cedar skirt on the Farmers Hall. He also upgraded the roof on the Greek Revival outhouse roof next to the Farmers Hall.

Prior to this year, Fisher also installed new white oak windowsills on the Cobblestone Universalist Church in 2017, reroofed the schoolhouse in 2018, and put a new metal roof on the schoolhouse bell tower in 2019.

Fisher has also assisted the museum in grant applications by helping to prepare bid specifications and providing quotes.

“He has succeeded to overcome any issues that arise once the work begins with minimal delay or cost,” Bosch said.

Roy Bubb

• Rufus Bullock Award – Roy Bubb was recognized for the award named in honor of the former Georgia governor from Albion for his outstanding and sustained contributions to the museum.

Bubb, a Clarendon native and retired educator, has supported the museum since its early days. He donated items for the one-room schoolhouse, including the teacher’s desk and a chair.

Bubb has been more active with the Cobblestone Society in recent years, attending many events, including bus tours. During the 2019 membership dinner, he purchased an 1880s heirloom quilt during the live auction.

He has donated a vase from a renown ceramic artist for the next fundraising auction, valued at $600. He has also donated puppets in mint condition that are more than 100 years old from Indonesia.

Bubb has also donated generously through his membership, the “60 for 60 campaign” seeking $60 on the museum’s 60th anniversary and a Pomeroy Fund Challenge.

Bill Lattin welcomes visitors to the Vagg House on Saturday following the Cobblestone Museum’s annual meeting. Lattin led the transformation of the Vagg House, at the corner of routes 98 and 104, into a home decorated in the 1920s and ’30s. Saturday was the first public event at the Vagg House since it was redone and added to the museum’s campus.

• Pullman Award – Bill Lattin, the retired museum director, was recognized with the Pullman Award for his many generous donations to the museum.

Lattin led the museum as director and curator for about 35 years, retiring in 2010. During his tenure as director, the museum was expanded beyond cobblestone buildings to broader Orleans County history. Lattin welcomed the blacksmith shop to the museum, and orchestrated the relocation of the harness shop, print shop and Farmers Hall to the Route 98 section of the museum.

In 1977, a “Privy Council” was formed and Lattin made a mission of finding old abandoned outhouses and giving them a home at the museum campus, wanting to elevate the 19thcentury authenticity of the growing museum, said Doug Farley, the current museum director.

He praised Lattin for staying involved with the museum since he retired 10 years ago, serving on the board as a trustee or officer. He serves as a mentor to staff and continues to volunteer with many projects.

This past summer Lattin and his grandson, Freeman Lattin, repainted buildings on Route 98. Bill also led the efforts to curate the Vagg House at the corner of routes 98 and 104, the former home of blacksmith Joe Vagg and his wife Nellie, who was active in the temperance movement.

The house includes many antiques from the house’s last owner, the late René Schasel. Many of those items were given to the museum in Schasel’s memory through his estate, which Lattin is co-executor.

Lattin also was able to find additional antiques to decorate the house in a 1920s, ’30s theme. The Vagg House is a new addition to the museum’s campus.

“With a broad knowledge of antiques, Bill has the ability to pinpoint items down to the smallest detail to represent genuineness of the period,” Farley said. “He used his own funds to purchase and donate some additional curios to amplify the feeling for guests that they have truly stepped back in time as they enter the house. And fittingly, Bill built and donated an outhouse for the home’s backyard.”

Maarit Vaga, a Cobblestone Museum trustee, planned many events with museum officials this year for the 60th anniversary of the museum and Cobblestone Society. Those events will be moved to 2021. Saturday’s annual meeting was held in the Cobblestone Universalist Church, the first time since the initial meeting nearly 60 years ago. The meeting is usually held at Tillman’s Village Inn. Saturday’s meeting also included a Zoom option for people to attend through video conferencing.

• 60th anniversary celebration moved to 2021 – The museum had many events planned for 2020 in honor of the 60th anniversary of the museum and Cobblestone Society. Many of those events will be moved to 2021, when the museum hopes Covid-19 restrictions will be eased to allow for larger group gatherings.

Despite having to curtail and cancel many of its fundraisers in 2020, the museum is projecting it will end the year with about $6,000 in net revenue – $122,895 in revenues and $116,839 in expenses.

The museum was aided by $15,000 through the federal Paycheck Protection Program. The museum also received $10,919 in donations, $10,615 in membership fees. A matching Pomeroy challenge also resulted in $16,483 from the grant and about $23,000 in additional membership donations through the challenge.

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