Press-Republican

December 3, 2012

New exhibit features history of Peru

By JEFF MEYERS
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — The history of the Town of Peru will be highlighted during a year-long exhibit at the Clinton County Historical Association Museum.

The exhibit, slated to begin Saturday, Dec. 8, with an open house for the entire community, will focus on the town’s agricultural, industrial and educational heritage. It will feature artifacts from the Town Historians Office and the Historical Association collection.

FIRST TOWN

“When Melissa Peck took over as director of the CCHA, she visited us and told us she would like to have some, if not all, of the towns in the area develop exhibits for the county museum,” said Ronald Allen, who is co-historian for Peru along with his wife, Carol.

“We thought it was a wonderful idea and are honored to be the first to have an exhibit at the museum.”

“The CCHA Outreach Committee wanted to give the Clinton County town historians the opportunity to exhibit their collection and to tell their town’s history in a museum setting,” Peck said of the decision to contact local historians.

“It is very important for CCHA to continue to develop relationships with town historians, and this has proved to be a perfect opportunity to do so.”

It will also give local historians an opportunity to see what resources the county museum has to offer them, she added.

‘BUSY PAST’

The exhibit, entitled “Peru’s Busy Past,” will be on display in the museum’s basement.

“We usually have an open house in December (at the Peru Town Hall), but this year we’ll be holding open house in conjunction with the opening of the exhibit,” said Mrs. Allen.

The exhibit will be free to all visitors noon to 3 p.m. Dec. 8.

LUMBER INDUSTRY

Julie Dowd, a docent and member of the Board of Directors for the Clinton County Historical Association, has been working on designing the displays, including an entire wall exhibit dedicated to the lumber industry and the A. Mason and Sons Lumber Yard.

“Mason’s Lumber was involved in a lot of different things,” Mr. Allen said. “A lot of people remember them as a business that just sold lumber, but A. Mason became very well known for the design and quality of their interior molding.”

For instance, bobsleds used during the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid used materials from A. Mason and Sons.

The company also manufactured pre-fabricated homes, several of which still stand in Peru and across the North Country.

DONATED ARTIFACTS

Dowd, who often works on organizing displays for the Historical Association, has spent the last several weeks coordinating artifacts for the exhibit.

“There are so many interesting items,” she said, stepping down from a footstool after tagging a gaslight-lamp lighter that will be on display. “This is going to be a wonderful exhibit.”

The lamp lighter, which was donated by Peru residents Robert and Cassie McGee, looks like a bamboo stick but has a copper or brass tube running along its inside length.

Another section of the exhibit will feature photos from Clough Brothers, the general store where Peru Hardware is now located. The business sold a lot more than hardware at the time, including a line of caskets, Mr. Allen noted.

SCHOOLHOUSES

There will also be space dedicated to the 19 one-room schoolhouses that once served Peru.

“Some of them were on the town’s perimeter and were shared with other townships,” Mr. Allen said.  “They were a very important part of our history.”

One artifact on display will be the bell from the Lyons Road schoolhouse. The town recently obtained possession of the schoolhouse from former owners Allen and Marion Dixon. The bell had been stored in the Dixons’ basement for the past several decades.

The Allens are accepting any relics from residents that may add to the collection’s varied depiction of the town’s history.

“I am excited about the already growing response to the exhibit and see this as a wonderful opportunity to bring members of the community to the museum and to also share some of their memories with us,” Peck said.

Email Jeff Meyers: jmeyers@pressrepublican.com

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TO LEARN MORE

For more information on the Peru history display at the Clinton County Historical Association museum, contact Ron and Carol Allen at 643-2745, Ext. 113.