Amsterdam City Hall, normally a stately and impressive old building, has received a touch of whimsical creativity from the community it overlooks and is all decked out for the holidays.
As part of the Montgomery County Historical Society’s “Deck the Doors” event, wreaths designed and donated by community members and local businesses and organizations have been hung on doors throughout City Hall’s three floors. The event combines, according to a flier, “local history, creativity and the community spirit that makes us call this area home.”
One wreath, donated by the literacy group Amsterdam Reads, is made of a circle of rolled up pages from an encyclopedia. Another, donated by Agnes Rodd, is called “Lots of Luck” and is made of a ring of eight horseshoes collected from local horse owners.
A description near the wreath reads, “Eight horseshoes bound together...because the horseshoes form a circle, no luck can escape.”
The wreaths will be on display in City Hall and will be part of a silent auction that lasts until Saturday at 3 p.m. Some of the wreaths come with bonuses: a squirrel and nut themed wreath donated by the Peddler’s Wagon includes a basket with jars of assorted nuts, while another book-themed wreath includes a gift certificate for the Book Hound. The proceeds from the auction will go to Old Fort Johnson’s Flood Recovery Fund and will be used to repair damage sustained during Tropical Storm Irene.
Amsterdam resident Christine Andrzejewski said that she thought the event had a good location and was a nice way to showcase City Hall. She’d visited Old Fort Johnson as a child and was supportive of its repair.
“My grandparents lived just up the road, so I’ve been there more than a few times,” she explained.
The event’s kickoff on Saturday included two engaging presentations about Amstserdam’s history from Bob Cudmore, which included photographs, newspaper clippings, and other primary documents. Locally produced products were up for sale, including bright and colorful bars of goat milk soap from the LoveKnot Farm, beeswax candles shaped like angels and bells, jars of honey, and jewelry.
Museum director of Old Fort Johnson, Alessa Wylie, said that this was the event’s second year, and that the Montgomery County Historical Society was pleased to have use of historic City Hall.
“Mayor Thane invited us to hold the event here last year, after Old Fort Johnson was damaged by Irene and it became clear that we couldn’t hold it there. It was a success, and we’re very pleased to have been invited back again. City Hall is a beautiful, historic building,” she said.
Cudmore regaled visitors with tales about Mohawk Carpet’s famous “The Wheel of Life” carpet, which was installed in New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel in 1938, and local boxing brothers John and Peter Duchessi, among others. His stories brought out the relevance and interest in local history.
The Amsterdam High School Select Chorus, dressed in dapper black and white choir robes, sang old favorites like “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Caroling, Caroling,” as well as a non-traditional rendition of “We Three Kings” from the first floor staircase to a crowd of smiling relatives and community members. Director Pat Valiante said that the group rehearses every day and that they’ve been preparing for their performance since early November.
The kickoff weekend continues today, from 1 to 4 p.m. Rachelle Cotugno will be singing Christmas carols at 1 and Cudmore’s history presentations will take place again at 1:30 and 2:30. Guided tours of City Hall will be offered on the last day of the silent auction, Saturday, from 1 to 3 p.m.
Amsterdam resident Barbara Tomasik said of the event, “It’s good to see how creative people are and to see their ideas. It’s a nice social event too, to bring people together. It’s always fun to catch up with friends.”