Cobblestone Museum reports an upswing in revenue, activities

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 November 2018 at 4:21 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers: The following were recognized on Saturday with awards for their support of the Cobblestone Society and Museum. Front row, from left: Susan Hurd Machamer, Gail Johnson and Maarit Vaga. Back row: Amy Machamer, Gerard Morrissey, Marty Taber, David Mitchell and Greg Lawrence. Jennifer Leonard, CEO and president of the Rochester Area Community Foundation, also was recognized.

GAINES – The Cobblestone Society and Museum held its annual meeting on Saturday and reported an increase in programming and revenue.

The museum this year had 35 events, with more to come including a Christmas tour of homes on Dec. 1.

Jim Bonafini, the board president, reported that revenue has been on the rise, from $65,000 in 2016, $79,000 in 2017 to $103,000 so far this year. That includes funds from visitors, memberships, donations and grants.

About 60 people attended the annual meeting for the society and museum on Saturday at Tillman’s Village Inn.

Members approved the following as officers for 2019:

President: Richard Remley

Executive Vice President: Toni Plummer

Vice President of Development: Erin Anheier

Secretary: Shirley Bright-Neeper

Treasurer: Jim Bonafini

Correspondence secretary: Grace Denniston

Membership Secretary: Gail Johnson

The following were also elected as trustees: (3-year terms) – Joyce Riley, Marty Taber, Pat O’Brien and Maarit Vaga; (2-year term) – Maura Pierce; (1-year terms) – Mike Thaine and Kevin Hamilton.

The society and museum also presented awards to several key supporters.

This year’s winners include:

David Mitchell in July donated a couch made by George Pullman in the 1850s to the Cobblestone Museum. He acquired the couch when he purchased the Merrill-Grinnell Funeral Home in Albion. Mitchell wanted the couch to stay in the community and be displayed for the public to enjoy. He was recognized with a Pullman Award on Saturday for the donation.

• Pullman Award – This is a new award given to recognize a generous donation that enhances the collection at the Cobblestone Museum. In July, David Mitchell donated a couch made by George Pullman, when he was a furniture manufacturer in Albion, before he moved to Chicago and developed the Pullman’s Palace Cars for the railroad industry.

Mitchell acquired the Merrill-Grinnell Funeral Homes in Albion and Holley. The Albion funeral home had a Pullman couch. Mitchell made that couch a stipulation of the sale of the funeral home. He then donated it to the museum.

Community Partner of the Year – The Rochester Area Community Foundation which has provided $44,000 in grants the past two years for a series of building improvements on the three cobblestone buildings that are pre-1850.

A grant for $23,000 went towards restoring windows and some repointing on the Cobblestone Church, as well as work on the next-door Ward House, which was built around 1840. The stairs on the house have been crumbling and were fixed with the grant funds.

A grant for $21,000 this year is focused on the schoolhouse from 1849. The schoolhouse will soon get a new roof, repaired masonry and fresh paint on the window trim and soffits near the roof.

Jennifer Leonard, president and CEO of the Foundation, thanked the museum for its work to preserve the three cobblestone buildings on Route 104, which were built before 1850. Those three buildings were named a National Historic Landmark in 1993.

Amy Machamer and Susan Hurd Machamer, owners of Hurd Orchards in Murray, have referred many customers to the Cobblestone Museum. Hurd Orchards also does an annual cobblestone luncheon with a speaker from the museum. A collection taken at the luncheon has been growing in recent years to help support the museum.

Business Partner of the Year – Hurd Orchards for many years has promoted group tours for the museum. Hurd Orchards touts the museum in the community and with the farm’s customers. Hurd also has collected funds for the museum, a total that has been on the rise.

The late Betty Hurd was an early supporter of the museum and the Cobblestone Society more than a half century ago. She has instilled a love of history and the cobblestone buildings in her daughter Susan Hurd Machamer and granddaughter Amy Machamer.

The Proctor Award is named for the founder of Childs who helped establish the Cobblestone Church. The award is given to someone who goes above and beyond to assist the museum in an extraordinary manner. The museum presented three Proctor Awards to recognize people for their efforts in 2018.

• Gail Johnson developed and coordinated a Membership Dinner and the Underwriting component, plus new initiatives for Development and Membership. That work resulted in about $40,000 for the museum. She has welcomed new donors to the museum. She also is a significant donor herself, offering the museum land, barns and monetary gifts. She also volunteered in many roles this past season.

• Maarit Vaga organized a Progressive Organ Concert on May 12 and also prepared the main dinner of French beef stew for 120 people which was served at Christ Episcopal Church. The concert and meal included three stops. The event was very popular with the participants. Vaga also wore the Cobble the Mouse costume in local parades to promote the museum.

• Gregory Lawrence of Clarendon has been working to digitize a collection of about 3,500 photographs of 700 cobblestone structures in New York State, images from Robert L. Roudabush between 1976 and 1980. The images and scans of maps from 21 counties will be available online through the Cobblestone Museum and the Landmark Society of Western New York.

Sue Bonafini, the museum’s assistant director, presents the volunteer of the year awards to Gerard Morrisey, left, and Marty Taber. She wrote a poem about how the two so frequently help with museum events.

Volunteer of the Year (2 winners)

• Gerard Morrisey has been a dedicated volunteer as a docent, stepping in whenever he is needed, including the Ghost Walk on Oct. 6 when he portrayed Rufus Brown Bullock, the former Georgia governor who grew up in Albion and moved back to his hometown after his career.

• Marty Taber was one of the coordinators of the Ghost Walk, and wrote the script for the different characters highlighted on the tour. He also helps the museum by giving tours, working on landscaping, and with buildings and grounds projects.

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