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Historic match

Elwood Museum finds new home

Thursday, February 21, 2013
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Historic match


Walter Elwood Museum Director Ann Peconie describes the gatelike door, rescued from a bank building, that adorns an entrance in the museum’s new home.
Walter Elwood Museum Director Ann Peconie describes the gatelike door, rescued from a bank building, that adorns an entrance in the museum’s new home.

— Much like the Walter Elwood Museum’s collection, the former Bigelow-Sanford carpet mill complex on Church Street in Amsterdam exhibits a variety of artifacts, due to its former owner’s love for history.

A deal struck recently with the Noteworthy Co. will bring the museum collection into the complex, giving the museum a permanent home for the first time since its last site was nearly destroyed by the overflowing Mohawk River.

Museum Director Ann Peconie beamed with excitement Thursday as she pointed out century-old moldings and stained glass windows that Noteworthy founder Thomas Constantino, an avid collector, rescued from doomed buildings in the city and installed inside the Church Street factory.

Details of the sale were not immediately available Thursday.

The museum’s collection has been in limbo, stored in the former Fuccillo auto dealership on Division Street for 18 months, and it will be months before it is situated in the new site. For now, Peconie said the museum has to plan a major volunteer drive to help clean up and paint numerous rooms that will serve renters looking for affordable office space.

There are two tenants making use of space in the basement, a personal trainer and a brush business, and the plan is to welcome businesses, nonprofits and others to rent space and help the museum afford its new site.

“Obviously our goal is to get more tenants,” Peconie said.

Space on the second floor is being eyed as ideal for artists and others who need a studio or want to hold classes. Peconie said the cost will be “very reasonable.”

Help is also being sought from people with knowledge in subjects like the Civil War or taxidermy interested in helping to develop exhibits.

Walter Elwood, a former school teacher, amassed a collection of artifacts from the local area and from throughout the world during his travels.

In its former locations, the museum had just enough space to present a single display on all of Amsterdam’s industries. Now there’s enough space to detail individual industries with displays on carpet mills, broom-making and other topics.

Bringing the talent and assistance from Amsterdam to help with development is part of the plan, Peconie said.

“We really believe this is the community’s museum,” she said.

People interested in learning about space available, or in helping to prepare the museum, can phone 843-5151 and leave a message.

 
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