The Klyne Esopus Museum, located in Ulster Park, New York, is housed in a former Dutch country church built in 1827. The museum offers a variety of exhibits about the culture, commerce and history of The Town of Esopus.
PRESIDENT’S STATE OF THE MUSEUM REPORT
Presented at the Annual Meeting January 15, 2005.
The Museum had a busy and productive year in 2004.
On January 24th, members and trustees met at the Esopus Firehouse for a strategic planning retreat. Many of the projects which came to fruition in 2004 were developed at earlier retreats and during this day-long session.
In March, we used a grant from the Dutchess County Arts Council to provide a one-person show about Sojourner Truth. Carolyn Evans’ portrayal of Sojourner thrilled the audience which included quite a number of children.
The Museum celebrated the 100th Anniversary of Esopian, Judge Alton B. Parker’s presidential candidacy with our major exhibit for 2004. The museum acquired through donations, numerous items for exhibition and for its Parker Collection. The great great grandson of Parker, former Esopian Theodore Oxholm, Jr. participated in our October presentation of Alton B. Parker:The Play. The play was written by Kevin Yard, the principal of the A.B. Parker School in Cortland, NY where Parker was born. The Cortland students performed the play in Esopus thanks to a grant from the Dutchess County Arts Council. The Robert Graves School in Port Ewen provided their choir to sing the Parker Campaign songs thanks to a generous grant from Nancy Oxholm Reid. The event gave us the opportunity to work closely with the Graves School and also provided another venue in the town for our activities, the Cabrini Campus in West Park.
The Strawberry Festival had some improvements this year. Seating was provided under a rented tent. We built a self-service food line that met the health department standards and we were entertained by the Jazz Band of Kingston High School thanks to a Dutchess County Arts Council grant.
In September, we began the Roger Mabie Speakers Series with a discussion about apple farming and open spaces in the Town of Esopus. Guest speakers included Rosener Wheeler who spoke about the history of apple farming and some of the local growers. Assemblyman Pat Manning, Chairman of Hudson Valley FRESH spoke about the value of Hudson Valley apples as a brand.
The Roger Mabie Speaker for October was Peter Dwyer who spoke about area railroads. Wilson Tinney was the final speaker in the 2004 season with his November presentation about ice harvesting in Esopus. He intertwined the history with some personal stories which delighted the near-capacity audience.
After several false starts, the Museum finally purchased the property to the north of the museum. This property provides safer and more extensive parking, storage and two additional galleries. This acquisition fulfills the dream of many of our earlier members and in particular Mary Polhemus who spoke of these needs in her book, The Making of the Klyne Esopus Historical Society Museum, (1969 to 1993). The Museum will be conducting a major fundraiser to pay off the mortgage.
The two storage barns at the rear of the museum were scraped, sanded and given three coats of paint as part of an Eagle Scout Leadership project. Christopher Scileppi and his fellow scouts from the Port Ewen Reformed Church troop worked diligently for well over 200 man-hours. In addition to the painting, they totally rehabilitated the restroom, insulating it and providing a pleasing decor.
The Town of Esopus provided the Museum with an informational Kiosk which we have put to use as our main entrance sign.
The lawsuit filed by former president Karl Wick remains active. Delays were encountered when the first judge recused himself because he was acquainted with most of the Trustees named in the action.
We have great plans for 2005.
The major exhibit will be Esopians in World War 2. This includes those who served at home. In partnership with the Esopus Post 1298 of the American Legion, the Museum is reaching out to veterans of WW2 who lived in Esopus. Their stories are being recorded as part of a Library of Congress project. We hope to have an exhibit which will tell there story and encourage visits. The highlight of the year will be a USO show, a very ambitious project.
Since the Roger Mabie Speakers Series proved so successful last Fall, we are asking Edwin and Ruth Ford to accept the honor of having their names associated with the Spring speakers series. We look forward to the Edwin and Ruth Ford Speakers Series which will begin in April.
The First Annual Recognition Dinner was such a huge success that we plan to conduct the Second Annual Dinner in April. Honorees will be selected by the membership committee and announced.
The Virtual Turkey Dinner was also a huge success. The generosity of our membership will help us with our operations despite the inability to have a real turkey dinner. Barring unforeseen events, the Annual Turkey Dinner with all its trimming will return “in the flesh” in October.
On a sad note, we must remember our founding member and first president Marion Sahler who passed away in November 2004. All our accomplishments over the years and our plans for 2005 owe their origins to Marion who wouldn’t accept the destruction of the Klyne Esopus Church. Together with our other founders, she created what today we call the Klyne Esopus Museum.
I hope you will continue to support our efforts to fulfill our mission and make every effort to participate in our events.