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Walter Elwood Museum celebrates 75th anniversary

Monday, August 11, 2014 - Updated: 10:51 AM

By CASEY CROUCHER

casey.croucher@recordernews.com

Three years ago, the Walter Elwood Museum was playing host to summer festivals and events at its Guy Park Manor site, until it was flooded by tropical storm Irene.

Saturday, the museum played host to its 75th anniversary, its first summer event since the 2011 storm, at its new location on Church Street.

"We had our big summer festival July 29, 2011, three weeks before we were flooded," museum executive director, Ann Peconie, said. "Today is kind of bittersweet for me."

Since the flood, the museum has been in a transition and restoration mode, moving everything to a temporary location, finding a new spot for the museum and then restoring everything damaged by the flood.

However, Saturday was a celebration of the three-year battle toward stability in the museum's new location at the former Noteworthy Complex and historic Sanford & Sons Carpet Mills.

"I'm excited to open the museum's doors to the public and share an old pastime," Peconie said.

The museum director said the event brought up bad memories, however, because she realized the list of vendors she once had for former summer festivities was ruined in the flood.

"I lost all my contacts, and when you're planning an event that's really important," she said. "I realized the flood really took a lot away from the museum."

Peconie said celebrating the museum's 75th anniversary was important because people who weren't sure of the museum's new location could find out.

"The most important purpose of today is to let people know we're still around," she said. "We're right here."

Saturday's celebration included an ice cream social, a birthday cake dedicated to the museum's anniversary, various vendors, bounce houses for children and music. Admission to the museum was free to the public, and there were authors and speakers with presentations in the museum throughout the day.

Children who participated in the museum's summer art camp also had the chance to show off their different works of art.

Camp participant Genevieve Geisler was excited to show off her Georgia O'Keefe-inspired flower.

"That one, right at the top," she said, pointing and jumping. "The pink and white one --that's mine."

Robert von Hasseln, director of the Community and Economic Development Department, said Saturday's event tied in well with the city's farmers market since they were side-by-side.

"People have been walking from the market, down the parking lot, to the 75th museum anniversary, it's been great," he said. "We're bringing all different people into the city today."

Von Hasseln said the farmers market brought tourists to the city and those tourists were stopping at the museum out of curiosity.

"People don't know this museum exists, and it's filled with treasures," he said. "Today's neighboring events really worked well together."

     

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