Ancram’s history drops into view

Pat Hoysradt, Farmer/ Image contributed

ANCRAM—Imagine being able to travel down the roads of a town and see images of its past around every bend.

Come spring in Ancram, you will be able to.

A historic banner project has come to life in the studio of local mixed media artist Lynne Perrella, who brought the idea to the Town Board back in June. After getting board approval, she set about creating 50 2-foot by 4-foot historic banners using her collage techniques to combine historic photographs, typography and visual image snippets of a famous local quilt.

In a phone interview this week, Ms. Perrella told The Columbia Paper she has long been impressed by Ancram’s “amazing historic archives—all under lock and key.

“The most unifying [feature] of any town is its history—it makes people feel good. It brings everyone together. Newcomers are fascinated by it” and to the people who grew up there “it is their legacy, their story.”

The goal of the banner project is to bring the town’s priceless historic archives to light. It “elevates our shared history and makes it visible,” she said.

Ms. Perrella is volunteering her time and talents for the project and her inspiration is much the same as it was for the Historic Vestibule she designed and put in place in the Town Hall entryway about eight years ago. All who enter can get a taste of the town’s evolution and see pieces of its past.

Railroad Station in Ancramdale/ Image contributed

The historic banners incorporate three visual elements: historic photographic images from the archives; typography, all bear the words—ANCRAM / Historic Farming Community; and red and white sections of the Mary Moon Rockefeller album quilt.

According to the book “Quilts in the Attic: Uncovering the Hidden Stories of the Quilts We Love,” by Karen Musgrave, the circa 1856 quilt was sewn by Mary Moon Rockefeller in anticipation of her wedding. It is an example of an album quilt because the center of every square was embroidered with the name of a local family. The 87- by- 95-inch fully-restored and framed quilt now hangs in the Town Hall meeting room, a gift from the Ancram Preservation Group.

The theme of the banners is people, places or activities depicted in vintage images from the archives.

Among the images are: the old papermill, the stone bridge, a young couple on their wedding day, fire company members, a railroad station, the Ancramdale store, a farmer, farming families, a World War I veteran, a one-room schoolhouse with students and teacher and the old Borden milk plant.

Paper Mill in Ancram

Ms. Perrella, who has lived in Ancram with her husband, John, for more than 30 years, uses her collage skills to take various elements and reinvent them in a cohesive way.

The banners are now in the process of being printed on both sides of a heavyweight vinyl material that looks like canvass and is weatherproof. They will be hung from utility poles in and around Ancram, Ancramdale and Boston Corners in the spring.

Ms. Perrella brought a finished banner with the artwork finalized and digitized for inspection by the Town Board in November. The board agreed to allot about $4,000 to getting all 50 banners made.

In conjunction with the banners, Ms. Perrella will also create a brief video for the town’s website that will identify the people, places and activities that appear on the banners.

Once everything is up, Ms. Perrella told the board, “then we can have a party.”

To contact Diane Valden email

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