Archive for the ‘Museum’ category

Illuminating Carl W. Peters

August 31, 2016
Carl W. Peters mural, "Fairport", on display at the Fairport Historical Museum.  Photo courtesy of Keith Boas.

Carl W. Peters mural, “Fairport”, on display at the Fairport Historical Museum. Photo courtesy of Keith Boas.

On June 21, 2016, Illuminated History held its fifth annual cemetery tour in which actors portrayed residents of the burying ground.  The tour, which was sponsored by the Perinton Historical Society, took place at the Fairport Historical Museum.  Mount Pleasant Cemetery in the village of Fairport, New York, was the focus of the tour.

Carl W. Peters was a renowned artist.  Born in Rochester, New York, he moved to Fairport as a child.  Carl’s love of art was apparent at an early age, and it was a passion that would last his entire life.  His “Fairport” scene, on permanent exhibit at the Fairport Historical Museum, is just one of many murals that were commissioned to him around the city of Rochester.

In this Illuminated History series, each of the scripts are based on in depth historical research, although some creative license may have been taken.  Carl W. Peters was portrayed by Craig Caplan.

Evening, folks.  I’m not quite sure why I’m here this evening.  My family wasn’t influential like the DeLands or industrious like Mr. Parce.  You see, I’m just an artist.  My name is Carl Peters.

Since I’ve been invited to tell my story, I suppose I should get to it.  I was born in Rochester November 14, 1897, the eldest child of Frederick and Louise Meyers Peters.  We moved to Fairport when I was 11 and bought a place on Jefferson Avenue, at the corner of Sandy Hill. 

After we moved here, my passion for painting went into overdrive as people started to take notice of my work.  I designed some post cards for the Stecher [pronounced STEK’-er] Lithographic Company and also some covers for McClure’s and other magazines.  In 1917, the Fairport Herald printed a story about me winning the best poster contest to advertise the pure food show to be held in Convention Hall, Rochester. 

Carl W. Peters, courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

Carl W. Peters, courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

That was nice and all, but I didn’t paint for the awards.  I painted because I had a love for it.  Best thing in the world to make a living at a job you love.

The Great War came along just as my career was heating up.  I joined up with the 15th Cavalry and spent a year overseas.  I was fortunate to be assigned to the Camouflage Corps as a designer.  I’d like to think I saved a few lives with my camouflage painting, despite the fact that I wasn’t on the front lines.  It’s pretty ironic, though.  I had always wanted to paint in France.  It just never occurred to me that I would be painting camouflage on military equipment!  By the way, I did get furlough in the fall of 1918 and managed to get some nice sketches done while in Paris.

After the war, I settled in New York City for awhile, and then moved on to Massachusetts in 1925.  Winters were spent painting in the Rochester area, and summers in Massachusetts.  I’d built a new studio at my place in Fairport, and it was exhilarating to be out in the snow looking for bursts of color in an otherwise white landscape.  Most of my paintings have a pop of red in them somewhere.  It just helps bring the paintings to life.

My first marriage didn’t work out, but it gave me two beautiful daughters.  My second marriage, to Blanche Peaslee, lasted over thirty years.  You see, Blanche was also an artist and she understood my need to paint.

Since I’ve been old enough to hold a brush, I’ve painted every day.  I’d still paint if I could hold a paintbrush.  This

Carl W. Peters self-portrait.  On loan to the Fairport Historical Museum by a private collector.

Carl W. Peters self-portrait. On loan to the Fairport Historical Museum by a private collector.

otherworldly stuff just isn’t conducive to that.  I’m most known for my landscapes, though I’ve been known to paint a portrait or two.  Your museum actually has a self-portrait that is on loan from a local art collector.  I feel it’s an accurate representation of my face. 

Speaking of my face, there’s a legend that I painted myself into one of the people in the mural upstairs.  In fact, there’s another legend that I painted my face into each of the people in the mural, even the women!  I’ll let you be the judge of that.  I’m just the artist.

Since we’re in this museum building that used to be the library, let’s talk about that mural upstairs.  It’s something I’m very proud of, the fact that I was chosen to paint that mural through the Works Progress Administration, also known as the WPA.  I wanted it to reflect the history of our community, the farmers and the laborers and everyone who worked hard to make Perinton what it is today.  Throughout the city, more of my murals still exist, though the Fairport mural is close to my heart since it represents my hometown.

I died July 7, 1980 at age 82.  I’ve got a nice spot at Mount Pleasant under a large tree.  Hmm…this would be an interesting landscape to paint.  If only I could hold a paintbrush again!

Script by Vicki Masters Profitt

(c) 2016 Vicki Profitt’s Illuminated History

Illuminated History Tour of Three Historic Perinton Cemeteries on June 16, 2015

May 31, 2015

Three historic Perinton Cemeteries will be the focus of this year’s Illuminated History cemetery tour, which will take place on Tuesday, June 16 at 7:00 p.m. at the Fairport Historical Museum.

Hear the stories of some of Fairport’s most respected pioneers, business owners and Civil War soldiers as told by the actors portraying them. Throughout the evening, you’ll meet tavern owners Cyrus Packard and Oliver Loud, of Egypt Cemetery, as they debate the merits of their businesses. Civil War mother Delia Northrop Treadwell, an eternal resident of Schummers Cemetery, will remember her four sons who served in the Union Army. Early settlers James and Lucretia Packard Hannan, of Perinton Center Cemetery, will also illuminate their lives for attendees. These stories and more will be shared on this special tour sponsored by the Perinton Historical Society.

This program, which is free and open to the public, will take place at the Fairport Historical Museum, 18 Perrin Street.

Illuminating Joseph S. Kelsey, Civil War Soldier

July 1, 2014

On June 17, 2014, Illuminated History held its third annual cemetery tour in which twelve actors portrayed residents of the burying ground.  The tour, which was sponsored by the Perinton Historical Society, took place at the Fairport Historical Museum due to inclement weather.  Greenvale Rural Cemetery in the village of Fairport, New York, was the focus of the tour.

In this Illuminated History series, each of the scripts of Greenvale’s featured eternal residents will be posted until all twelve have been illuminated.  Although the scripts are based on in depth historical research, some creative license may have been taken.

We begin with the life of Civil War soldier Joseph S. Kelsey, who was portrayed by Craig Caplan:

My name is Joseph S. Kelsey, and I’d like to share my story with you. My father, Asa Kelsey, was an early pioneer of my hometown in West Camden, New York. I was the third of Asa and Amanda Higbee Kelsey’s seven children, and the only son. Oddly enough, my first wife, Mary, and I had seven children – six sons and one daughter. I came of age just as the Civil War began.

Craig Caplan as Joseph S. Kelsey.  Photo courtesy of Kara Lee.

Craig Caplan as Joseph S. Kelsey. Photo courtesy of Kara Lee.

In 1862, I felt it my duty to enlist in the war effort, and so I mustered into the 146th New York Infantry. Nearly 3 years of my life was spent fighting the rebels before mustering out at the end of the war. We fought ferociously at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, at the battle of the Wilderness…and then there was Gettysburg. I witnessed that fool Confederate general George Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg. You see, I was an ambulance driver then, and stationed at the rear of our Rochester boys in the 108th New York Infantry. I could see the whole line from Little Round Top to Peach Orchard. The cannonading preceding the charge was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. It still gives me night terrors sometimes. I was one of the lucky ones and was only injured once during my service – when a horse kicked me and I broke a leg. Still, I was more fortunate than my brother-in-law, Oliver Clarke.

Oliver was with the 94th New York Infantry. He was captured in June 1864 and spent nearly a year at Andersonville Prison. He survived, though, and married my youngest sister, Josephine. Have you ever heard of Mount McGregor? It’s the cottage in Saratoga County where General Ulysses S. Grant wrote his memoirs. That great patriot died at Mount McGregor in 1885. After the General’s death, my sister and brother-in-law spent 53 years as caretakers at the cottage. Sometimes, I’d travel there and assist them with their duties. It was awe-inspiring to be in the same rooms where General Grant spent his last days on this earth. Word is Mount McGregor has been turned into a museum to honor that remarkable man.

In 1881, I became a charter member of the Grand Army of the Republic Fairport Post #211, along with my friend and comrade Chester

Joseph S. Kelsey

Joseph S. Kelsey

Hutchinson, from whom you’ll also hear this evening. The Grand Army was first formed after the Civil War to allow veterans to meet with each other and reminisce about their war efforts. Later, the organization became a powerful political group and advocate for veterans’ rights. Seven United States presidents were Civil War veterans, and many of them came to power due to the strength of the Grand Army. I’m proud to have been a part of that organization, and I served as Commander of the Fairport post for a number of years.

After the war, I spent time farming and working as a carpenter to support my large family. We had moved to Fairport in 1873, when I bought the house at 177 South Main Street in the village. Soon after, I decided I liked the newer house next door at 173 South Main Street, at the corner of Summit Street. Mary and I raised our children in that house and we lived there happily for many decades to come.

I’m very proud of my family. My six sons have made names for themselves. We lost my eldest, George, in 1898. He had enlisted for service in the Rochester Naval Reserve in July, 1898. After enlistment, George had passed examination as a bayman, a non-commissioned ship’s officer who is employed in the sick room. My wife and I received a letter from George telling us about his experiences and that he had been transferred to a naval hospital in Portsmouth. Soon after that, George was taken seriously ill with typhoid fever and news of his death quickly followed.

Marion, my third son, was master of the steam freight packet William B. Kirk and also ran excursion boats up and down the canal. The “William B. Kirk” was the last canal boat piloted on the Rochester section of the Erie Canal, and my son was at the helm. Marion was a canal boatman for over 50 years. In 1927, he rode the first Rochester & Eastern interurban railway through Rochester’s subway. My fifth son, Roy, was also a canaller.

My youngest son was born in 1884, just a year before General U.S. Grant passed on. We named our boy Grant in honor of the great general. Our Grant worked for the American Can Company here in Fairport and was President of the Fairport Automobile Club in 1922. Grant’s brother, Harlow, was also an automobile enthusiast and opened his own garage at 150 North Main Street in Fairport.

Mary, my beloved wife, died in 1913 at our home at 173 South Main Street. We’d been married nearly 49 years. The following year I married a widow, Esther Hare, who had seven children of her own. In 1926, I lost Esther after 13 years of marriage. Though I felt their losses keenly, I continued my work with the Grand Army of the Republic and dedicated my remaining days to keeping the history of our war efforts alive until going to my reward in 1929, just shy of my 93rd birthday.

Script by Vicki Masters Profitt

(c) 2014 Vicki Profitt’s Illuminated History

Resources:

Perinton Historical Society & Fairport Museum:  http://www.PerintonHistoricalSociety.org

Grant Cottage: http://www.GrantCottage.org

 

“Decades of I Do: Wedding Gowns of the 20th Century” Exhibit Debuts at the Fairport Historical Museum

April 29, 2014

2013 was the year of Downton Abbey.  My previous post extolled the virtues of the show’s interesting characters and elegant costumes.  As Director of the Fairport Historical Museum, I had the opportunity create a “Fashions Inspired by Downton Abbey” exhibit featuring costumes that came directly from the collection of the Perinton Historical Society (PHS) and which represented the witty Dowager Countess, the demure Lady Sybil and the elegant Lady Grantham, among others.  Due to the tremendous response to that exhibit, I’ve entered the PHS closets once again to bring even more costumes to light.

The wedding gown of Alice Beaumont Warner.

The wedding gown of Alice Beaumont Warner.

In 2014, the Fairport Historical Museum celebrates weddings.  Our newest exhibit, “Decades of I Do: Wedding Gowns of the 20th Century” showcases twelve wedding gowns from area brides. Six dresses come from the PHS collection, while an additional six are on loan from their owners.  Wedding announcements and bridal photos accompany many of the gowns and serve to personalize each bride’s story.  Here is the story of our 1903 bride, Alice Beaumont, who has the distinction of having the earliest wedding gown in the exhibit.

Alice M. Beaumont, the daughter of Edward F. and Emma Sahlman Beaumont, was born in June, 1881.  She grew up on George Street in the village of Fairport, New York, and it was in the parlor of that home that Alice and George H. Warner were married on October 1, 1903 beneath a beautiful arch of evergreen and floral decorations as eighty friends and family members looked on.  Dressed in white lansdown trimmed with Irish lace, the bride carried a bouquet of white roses to meet her groom.

Alice Beaumont and George H. Warner on their wedding day, October 1, 1903.  Photo courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

Alice Beaumont and George H. Warner on their wedding day, October 1, 1903. Photo courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

George H. Warner was the son of George S. and Lena Peglow Warner.  George S. had served during the Civil War  in the 16th U. S. Infantry.  George S. and Lena had seven children, of which George H. was number four.

The Beaumonts also had a Civil War veteran in their midst.  Alice’s paternal grandfather, Thomas Beaumont, served in Co. A, 8th New York Cavalry.

Alice and George became parents in 1908 upon the birth of their first son, Leon.  Three more sons, Hollis, Vincent and George Maxwell, would follow within the next seven years.  George supported his growing family by working as a foreman at the American Can Company.

1915 was a dreadful year for Alice Beaumont Warner.  On May 19th her mother, Emma Sahlman Beaumont, died.  Three months later, a motorcycle accident ended the life of her grandfather, Frederick Sahlman.  Then in October Alice’s aunt, Elizabeth Sahlman Bort, was killed in an automobile accident.  In the midst of this sadness, Alice gave birth to her fourth and final son, George Maxwell Warner.  Little George must have been the only bright spot in this annus horribilus.

The Warners lived at 25 Woodlawn Avenue in Fairport for the majority of their 66 year marriage, which ended only with George’s death on March 25, 1970.  Alice Beaumont Warner died twelve days later.  They were buried at White Haven Cemetery in Pittsford, New York.

Alice is just one of the brides represented in this exhibit.  I invite you to visit the Fairport Historical Museum, located at 18 Perrin Street near the Village Landing, during regular open hours (Sundays and Tuesdays 2:00-4:00 p.m., Thursdays 7:00-9:00 p.m. and Saturdays 9:00-11:00 a.m.) to view these exquisite wedding gowns and to read the announcements of nuptials from the past, when “O Promise Me” was a popular wedding song and the Green Lantern Inn was the fashionable place to hold a wedding reception.

Inspired by Downton Abbey

December 3, 2013

Over the past two weeks, it seems as if I’ve been living and breathing Downton Abbey.  Not that I’m complaining.  Since the first season of Downton, I’ve been mesmerized by the characters and the intrigues but also, more importantly, by the elegant costumes and history of the time period.

Bruce, Alastair003Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a special luncheon presented by WXXI featuring Alastair Bruce, OBE, historical advisor to Downton Abbey.  It was an intimate gathering – just me, my friend Suzanne Lee, and 400 other fans of the show.  What a time we had!  This was Mr. Bruce’s only presentation in the United States and, I’m very proud to say, it was held in Rochester, New York.  Captivating the audience with charm and wit,  Mr. Bruce regaled us with stories about the making of the show.  Who knew that Rob James-Collier, also known as the dastardly servant Thomas Barrows, is an amazingly nice guy in real life?  Or that the actors sometimes get tired of being told to tilt their heads differently or to sit up straighter?  If I came away with anything from the presentation, it was to watch for the little details going on in the background of the show.  Did you ever notice the servants measuring how far each chair was from the table?  Those are the details that go into creating a show of such high caliber.

This week, I have the pleasure of being a guest speaker at the Barnes & Noble in Webster, New York, for their Downton Abbey event, where I will display and discuss seven Downton Abbey inspired costumes from the collection of the Perinton Historical Society (PHS) which were recently exhibited at the Fairport Museum.  The PHS has an impressive collection of over 1,000 costumes and accessories from the mid-1800s through modern times.  My original plans were to create a different costume exhibit for the museum.  However, once I saw the black gown, an inner voice that sounded much like the Dowager Countess said, “My dear, you must display Downton Abbey.  Nothing else will do!”  B&N Flyer 2013002After that, the costumes nearly jumped out of the closet.  There was an exquisite gown which would have been stunning on Lady Grantham.  Sweet Sybil was represented in white and blue, while Edith’s no nonsense attitude manifested itself in a black sheath dress.  Lady Mary wore a classic long, black gown complete a net jacket embellished with thousands of small beads.  Even Mrs. Hughes and Lady Rose MacClare were represented in the exhibit.

Although the Downton Abbey exhibit at the Fairport Museum has ended, you still have the opportunity to see the fabulous costumes at this one time event at Barnes & Noble, located at 1070 Ridge Road in Webster, New York.  It promises to be a fun evening.  Our friends from the Rochester Historical Society, whose own Downton Abbey exhibit opens today, will also be there.  So will Kristen Zory King of Writers & Books, who will give a short presentation about why the female characters of Downton Abbey draw us in.  Stop by on Thursday evening, December 5, 2013, at 7:00 p.m. to gaze at these exquisite pieces of history that were once worn by women from our own community.

Don’t Allow Your Local Historical Society to Become History

January 31, 2013
"Baby It's Cold Outside!" exhibit at the Rochester Historical Society

“Baby It’s Cold Outside!” exhibit at the Rochester Historical Society

As I walked through a Rochester Historical Society exhibit of exquisite cold weather clothing recently, I was awed by the craftmanship of the pieces.  Here was a collection consisting of velvet jackets with beaded mantles, wool capes,  plush muffs and  incredible hats trimmed with feathers, and yet the gallery was empty.  Where were the visitors who should have been relishing the experience of seeing this historical attire in such a captivating display?  

This is a common situation among small museums and historical societies.  People are busier than ever.  They are involved in charitable organizations, church groups and their children’s sports teams.  Grandparents are also playing a bigger part in the lives of their grandchildren than ever before.  Many individuals are just so busy, they don’t think to make time for something as “old-fashioned” as a visit to the local museum or to attending a program at a historical society. However, these museums and historical societies, most of which are non-profit organizations, subsist on memberships, small admittance fees and the occasional grants and donations.  They need you to survive.  They need your time and your money and they need you to know they still serve a valuable purpose. 

There are many ways to donate to these worthwhile historical organizations.  Historical societies have very reasonable annual membership fees, which can range from $5-$20 and up.  Your membership allows these organizations to purchase artifacts for their collections and to pay honorariums to speakers who provide excellent programs on historical topics.  Consider making a donation to a local historical society in memory of a loved one.  Many societies have also benefited from bequests, and have attorneys on hand who can assist with this process.  Grants can be a wonderful resource for small societies, but the process is complex, the competition is fierce and therefore it can be difficult to be awarded a grant.

Navy blue velvet hat with blue ostrich feathers.  Rochester Historical Society exhibit.  Courtesy of Cheri Branca.

“Baby It’s Cold Outside!” Rochester Historical Society exhibit. Navy blue velvet hat with blue ostrich feathers. Courtesy of Cheri Branca.

Although the gift of money is always welcome, consider donating your time.  At the Fairport Historical Museum in Fairport, New York, we have been fortunate to have many long-time volunteers who greet visitors, oversee gift shop sales and help out wherever needed.  Many of these stalwart volunteers work just two hours a month at the museum.  As time goes on and these veteran volunteers retire, fewer people are taking their places.  It becomes more and more difficult to staff the museum.  A few hours of your time a month makes all the difference between having a museum everyone can enjoy, and a building filled with historical treasures but devoid of people.

"Baby It's Cold Outside" exhibit at the Rochester Historical Society.  Photo courtesy of Cheri Branca.

“Baby It’s Cold Outside” exhibit at the Rochester Historical Society. Photo courtesy of Cheri Branca.

Think of your childhood memories, which included visits to local museums.  Remember the childlike wonder as you beheld the treasures contained within its walls.  Now ponder a future with no museums, no treasures, no magic.  We must find a way to support these institutions for the sake of our children and grandchildren, and theirs after them.   Without your support, these societies will cease to exist.  Please consider a visit to your local museum, a membership to your local historical society or volunteer your time so you can be a steward of history.


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