Ancram’s historic and now has a sign to prove it

This new historic district marker will be placed near the Ancram Post Office. Photo by Art Bassin

ANCRAM—One definition of a sign, according to Merriam-Webster, is “a public notice that advertises something or gives information.”

Maybe the most important thing about a sign is that it has to be visible to fulfill its purpose. Figuring out exactly where that visible place is has proved to be a challenge over the past few months since the Town of Ancram came into possession of a marker denoting the hamlet of Ancram an historic district.

The town won a grant through the William G. Pomeroy Foundation applied for by town resident John Hoffman. The marker says, “Ancram Hamlet Historic District has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017 by the United States Department of the Interior.”

The Pomeroy website (www.wgpfoundation.org) says its New York State Historic Marker Grant Program covers the entire cost of a cast aluminum marker, pole and shipping.

These roadside markers “commemorate historic people, places, things or events in New York State within the time frame of 1740-1921.”

The Boston Corner hamlet has a marker denoting the southwesternmost point in Massachusetts on the New York border and the site of the famous Morrissey vs. Sullivan prize fight. Both signs are posted on Boston Corner Road.

Boston Corner Community Organization Chair Carol Falcetti told The Columbia Paper by phone, that it is a Pomeroy Foundation requirement that the signs be placed along a road to “encourage tourism and knowledge.”

Ancramdale also has an historic district marker that has been placed in the hamlet’s center triangle, according to Town Clerk Monica Cleveland.

The decision about where the Ancram Hamlet Historic District marker should be placed fell to the Ancram Hamlet Planning Group. An advisory to the Town Board, the group “discusses issues and concerns that are of impact to the hamlet, and the residents that live within the hamlet area; we then report those issues and concerns to the town board. In addition, the hamlet group seeks to address the issues raised in the recent updated Ancram Comprehensive Plan (that are relevant to the hamlet). The group was formed a year and a half ago, and has met four times (most recently in December),” former group Co-chair Paul Ricciardi told The Columbia Paper by email. Mr. Ricciardi is co-director of the Ancram Opera House.

Mr. Ricciardi also spoke to the Town Board at its November meeting about the process the group went through to choose a place for the sign.

The group had identified three locations:

• In the triangle in front of the former Simons General Store at the intersection of State Route 82 and County Route 7 in the hamlet center

• In front of the former Little Store near the post office on County Route 7

• Near the Ancram Freeground Cemetery, further southwest on County Route 7 headed towards Gallatin.

The group had voted on the choices with the Little Store coming in first, followed by the cemetery and the triangle coming in third.

Concerns were raised about placement in the triangle because the area was already home to another historic marker and a monument. It was not a popular choice because the small area was considered too busy, with too much to look at.

Councilmember Bonnie Hundt noted that people drive by there so fast there is really no time to “see what’s there and appreciate it.”

Supervisor Art Bassin suggested the historic marker that is currently in the triangle be removed and replaced with the new one.

Councilmember Hugh Clark said that at the Little Store, the sign may get lost in the shadow of a tree. There were also concerns about placement on private property, though permission from the owner had been given.

It was pointed out that there was already precedent for placement of an historic marker on private property at the Ancram Mill.

Councilmember David Boice said the paper mill has been in the same place and operated as a mill since before the American Revolution. The Little Store has been everything from a carpentry shop, a private residence and a store all within his lifetime. It may not always remain a store and the town needs to be realistic, according to the November meeting minutes.

Councilmember Madeleine Israel thought the old cemetery would be the most appropriate place. She believes the town owns it and it would satisfy everyone who had wanted it in the triangle.

At the end of the discussion, Mr. Bassin said there was no sense in rushing to a decision and said the board would take it up in December.

In his notes on the December 17 meeting, Mr. Bassin wrote that the Town Board requested that the Ancram Hamlet Planning Group make the decision as to where the historic district marker should be placed. He said the locations being considered were by the Little Store and the Post Office.

Since then, the group has decided the sign will be placed next to the Ancram Post Office at 1295 County Route 7, according to Jay Corcoran, the new chair of the Ancram Hamlet Planning Group. Mr. Corcoran said by email that Highway Superintendent Jim Miller will install the sign when the ground thaws.

“… [I]n the end, we wanted the marker to be placed in a location where people could see it and admire it,” Mr. Ricciardi said by email.

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