Open this door for history

ANCRAM–The Town Hall vestibule is about to be re-invented.

No longer will it be a non-descript 11.5-by-8-foot entryway with a doormat and few pamphlets on the side. No, no, it is about to be transformed into a permanent exhibition space for local history.

Ancramites have taken pride in their “new” Town Hall from the minute the whole planning process began, through its formal opening ceremonies the weekend of July 4, 2003 and are still thinking up ways to make it better and their own.

Residents have been part of the landscape design and the planting of trees and shrubs around the Town Hall; Eagle Scout Carl Jamieson installed a commemorative stone walkway leading to and around the flagpole out front; the Town’s Youth Commission organized the community build of a state-of-the-art playground out back and solar panels were installed to make the building more environmentally friendly.

The idea to hang a soaring hawk sculpture in the building’s belfry didn’t quite get off the ground and everyone remembers the great clash over vinyl-versus-wood siding, which culminated with a privately-funded painting project with residents wielding the brushes.

Now just in time for the Town Hall’s 10th and the Town’s 210th birthdays this summer local artist and Ancram Angel Lynne Perrella has devised the vestibule project. Mrs. Perrella presented her vision to the Town Board a couple of months ago complete with a scale model of the re-imagined vestibule and the historic stuff that will be in it.

Ancram Historian Clara Van Tassel is the keeper and chronicler of “a wealth of treasure” in the way of historical documents, photographs and artifacts, and residents “should see more of it,” said Mrs. Perrella, noting that until now space for the display of this trove has been limited. It is Mrs. Perrella’s aim to set up rotating history exhibits, three per year, on topics that are “worthy and interesting” and document them with historic accuracy. Possible projects include the railroad, one-room schoolhouses, homesteads and historic textiles.

According to Mrs. Perrella’s written description of the project, “Vintage wood will define the exhibit area and provide a backdrop for the historic displays.

“A photographic frieze, consisting of new and vintage photos will surround the exhibit area and will provide a permanent visual Ancram identity.

“Additional lighting and baseboard heating will add to the welcoming, hospitable environment of the vestibule.”

A sign will proclaim “ANCRAM/Historic Farming Community Moving Forward.”

Documents or photos that are too fragile or valuable to be displayed will be reproduced and exhibited under glass.

Mrs. Perrella presented a budget of about $12,500 for materials and work to complete the project.

The Town Board gave the project the thumbs up. Community contributions will pay for the project and Supervisor Art Bassin will work on raising the money by the end of the year.

The town will front the money for the project so it can be completed over the next few months in time for the Town Hall’s 10th anniversary celebration.

Town Clerk Monica Cleveland is in charge of organizing that event and a date has not yet been set.

Highway Superintendent Jim MacArthur volunteered to make a cake.

To contact Diane Valden email .


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