on Jul 27th 2008
Location: Pierce’s Hall, East Putney
Members present: Barbara Taylor, Ruth Barton, Stuart Strothman, Lindley Speers, Laurel Ellis, MaryJane MacGuire, Jane Rawley
Also present: 18 people, including Marilyn Loomis of the East Putney Community Club.
Meeting called to order by Ruth Barton.
Secretary’s report was offered. Motion by Lindley Speers to accept minutes of annual meeting were seconded and accepted.
Treasurer’s report was offered. We had a large expense of $1600 to move our large cases upstairs. Some money left in Veteran’s Memorial Fund. Kudos were offered for the Veteran’s Memorial, and Laurel spoke about some options for including new names.
Motion to accept the treasurer’s report was seconded and passed.
The slate of officers was discussed, and President Ruth Barton and Secretary Stuart Strothman were renominated, and Lindley Speers was nominated as Treasurer, while Barbara Taylor was nominated as Vice President. The new slate was moved and seconded, and passed.
New directors, Laurel Ellis and Tim Ragle were nominated, and motion to accept members was passed. Tim spoke about his experience as an expert in restoring old houses, and many other antiques including horse drawn coaches, and his work on his 18th century house on Hi-Lo Biddy Road. He has been a Putney resident for fourteen years.
The next item of business was the discussion of whether to accept the offer of the East Putney Community Club to share Pierce’s Hall with the Putney Historical Society. Discussion ensued.
- Malcolm Jones Sr. wondered if the dances would continue, and when hearing they would, suggested that PHS and the EPCC’s operational activities would not coincide well. Also, the travel for people to come out to East Putney to look at artifacts would create a hardship. He wondered if there were other options for the location of the Historical Society.
- Ruth suggested that the Selectboard seemed to want us out; Lindley stated that was not currently the case.
- Richard Taylor suggested that our collection was too big to put into Pierce’s Hall, and Town Hall could handle it better. It was noted that the Town Hall could have up to 50 people upstairs.
- Marion Daley said that the acoustics at were bad, and it was hard to hear.
- Laurel suggested that the Town Hall would be a question mark for some time to come, but there were certain collections which need to stay at the Town Hall (photos, geneology files, and possibly subject files).
- Laura suggested that we had some obligation to help preserve Pierce’s Hall.
- Jane suggested that we would have perhaps more storage space here that people might think…under the stage, and up in the loft. Barbara backed that up, and suggested that we might have things in both places, and spread our collection out—she noted Eli Prouty’s suggestions of using the space upstairs in the Town Hall. She thought that spreading out the collection in different places would be a good idea.
- MaryJane wondered about the financial issues, which Stuart tried to summarize, along with the context of particular difficulties PHS has with regard to the Town Hall, the Thwing Mill, and Pierce’s Hall. Issues discussed were lack of access and difficulty of obtaining grants for a reconstructed (built in 1984) Thwing Mill; prohibitive cost for PHS of redoing upstairs of Town Hall, and the consequent lack of confidence in our ability to stay there; and the relative ease of writing grants for (1821) Pierce’s Hall (with its operational costs about $1500 for insurance, and $700 for maintenance and propane to heat monthly dances, according to joint meeting of the EPCC and PHS in July), which has recently had its roof patched, but like Thwing Mill, needs a new one.
- Bob Hindmarsh suggested that we should have a further study for use of space, and try to answer questions of how would we use the space at Pierce’s Hall, and the Town Hall.
- Marilyn noted that the EPCC uses this space only once a month, and it would be nice if we could merge, but if we can’t they’ll get along.
- Malcolm suggested that we look into using the Community Center, and Laurel answered that that is not possible because of current use of that building, and the upstairs space has been declared off limits by the fire marshal. There have been some problems with theft at the Community Center. Malcolm suggested that we use the new firehouse, which folks found humorous.
- Jane noted that we have done some work around Pierce’s already, and she has learned a lot about the area of East Putney. Stuart noted that possible revitalization of East Putney was part of the discussion.
- Barbara, who works at the town hall, noted that it was hard to imagine the geneology files separate from the town hall, near the vault, etc. She also noted that the upstairs at the Town Hall was cold in the wintertime, and that was an issue.
- Laura noted that the Town Clerk felt the same way as Barbara, she thought, and it was important to recognize that the files there are valuable resources, and the longtime support of town clerks was an evidence of our place in the community, and also that our principal founder was herself the Town Clerk (Inez Harlow).
- Laurel suggested that we might be able to rotate our displays, and keep some things here, some things at the Town Hall, some at the library, and keep things fresh.
- Thera Hindmarsh wondered if the loft was usable, and Stuart noted that Abe Noe-Hayes had suggested no, though builder Scott Henry had subsequently said yes, but that was an important question, as the storage space is considerable.
- Ruth stepped aside from her role of President to discuss this issue, and began by noting that while it would be nice to have Pierce’s Hall, it simply will not hold all of our things. Her vision was to rotate things around. The Thwing Mill is of some use, and while the Town Hall may be usable, and we may have support of the current Selectboard, boards change, and that is not predictable. Her suggestion is that we definitely leave paper records at the Town Hall, and our big display case. We could move smaller cases here, use the balcony for storage, and make things moveable so that dances can still be held, and the stage can be used for theatrical performances or whatever. Regarding the location in the center of town, it is not always predictable where the historical society will be in any town; moreover, we have not been offered a place in town.
- Marilyn noted that the EPCC has a couple meetings a year, and the musicians that have been running it have earned enough through the dances to cover overheard, which is about $2200 a year
- Laurel wondered who would sign on the dotted line, if the deal were to be done, and Stuart suggested that would be Abe Noe-Hayes, Sue Caviola and not sure whom else.
- MaryJane wondered if the overhead would be feasible and how we could manage that.
- Thera wondered what the board planned to do next, and Ruth noted that she had wanted to wait until after this meeting to decide.
- Richard noted that if we took the place, we would not be worse off, and we might have the Town Hall folks off our back. Ruth supported that idea.
- Barbara noted that there would be costs attached to taking this building, which we don’t currently incur at the Town Hall.
- Jane noted that perhaps we should have an estimate written up as Bob suggested, and send that out, or have another.
- Richard noted that we should have volunteers come to do some work. Marilyn suggested that we ask Abe or Andy (not sure of last name) how much the EPCC would contribute.
- Tim wondered if the dances were dying out, and if not, how would we store things when the place is packed, which he had witnessed while attending dances over the past years. Also, would we need to heat for preservation? Stuart suggested no, as cold spells are common in Vermont historical societies, which may be open only for summer months.
No final resolution was called for.
A motion to adjourn was made, and passed.
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