KINDERHOOK – “The Mayor of Main Street” Guy Gamello donated two dozen glass-plate negatives depicting early 20th century life in the village of Valatie to the Columbia County Historical Society (CCHS) on March 7.
Mr. Gamello purchased the set of antique negatives, dated between 1909 and 1910, at auction 30 years ago. Recently, with the assistance of Lee Sharp of the Valatie Library and Dominick Lizzi, village historian, he was able to identify locations in the photographs.
CCHS Director Diane Shewchuk explained that having the 100 year-old negatives for their archives, as well as scanned copies for public exhibit, is quite a treat.
“It’s wonderful to be able to compare and contrast what we have now and what was here 100 years ago,” said Ms. Shewchuk. “This is new for us. Normally we didn’t collect things from the 20th century. We were founded around that time and we didn’t save contemporary things.”
Ed Simonson, who was influential in organizing and moving the project forward, said that two of the glass plates in the collection were identified as coming from the Altamont area, and those plates were sent along to that town’s historian.
The plates, which had been stored in a manufacturers film carton, will be removed and placed in archival sleeves and stored permanently.
Village Mayor Diane Argyle praised Mr. Gamello for his generosity, saying, “On behalf of the village board, I would like to thank Guy Gamello for his foresight and generosity in preserving and donating these antique pictures of Valatie. His deep caring for Valatie is well known and it is with good reason he is considered as ‘The Mayor’ of Main Street. Future generations will now be able to see these unique photos of our village.”