Earlier newsletters. Most recent is first.
NOVEMBER PROGRAM: TOUR THE NEW SKANEATELES FIREHOUSE
The Skaneateles Fire Department is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year in a brand new facility. For the Society's November program, Jim Buff will lead a tour of the fire department's new building on the corner of West Genesee and Kane.
ANNUAL HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE
On Sunday, December 7, the Society will hold its annual holiday open house at the Creamery. The building will be festively decorated, music will fill the air, cookies and punch will satisfy your sweet tooth, Dickens characters are sure to visit, and a good time will be had by all. Please come to the Creamery, any time between 1 and 4, for this always happy occasion.
When we were restoring the Creamery, dozens of volunteers gave hundreds of hours sheetrocking, sanding, spackling, etc., thus saving the Society thousands of dollars. Now, with the museum expansion, we're hoping for the same sort of community help. If you can paint, we can use you. Please call the Creamery (685-1360) to give your name. We'll call you when the job is ready to be done. Thanks in advance for your contribution in sweat equity.
THANKS AND KUDOS
When the museum floor needed to be repaired this fall, numbers
of artifacts had to be moved before the workmen could get started -- and then, of course, back again after the work was done. Several volunteers were of special help: Dave Bates, Pat Blackler, Elizabeth Hirsh, Sally Holben, John Kane, Karlene
and Bill Miller, Dave, Paula and Paul Miller, Sue and Joe Spalding, and Laurie Winship. In addition, the artifacts had
to be dusted because of all the brick dust stirred up. Bere, Dave "Swiffer" Miller proved particularly industrious. Thanks
to all of them.
The Creamery will be open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from 1 to 4, from Thanksgiving Friday through Christmas. Those are good times to bring visitors to the Creamery and to do some holiday shopping. (See page 5 for some suggestions.)
Don't forget that January is the month to renew your Society membership. Just $10 a person per year, and you get 10% discount at our Gift Shop.
NEW MEMBERS ON THE DISPLAY COMMITTEE
Joining Margaret Chase on the Display Committee are Loretta Marx, Cindy Smith and Carol Ann Cook. This is the group responsible for planning and executing the displays at both the Creamery and 1st National Gifts. Welcome and thanks to Loretta, Cindy, and Carol Ann.
MUSEUM EXPANSION UPDATE
The snowflakes have started to fly. That does not mean, however, that construction of our museum expansion will come to a halt. Foundation work for the connecting wing between the boiler plant now under renovation and the Creamery is about to start. Foundations for the archival addition at the northeast corner of the Creamery, where an icehouse once stood, will proceed at the same time. In fact, we have asked Secor Building Solutions to expedite completion of that addition so that Ted Prindle and Jim Dougherty, long-time archival volunteers, can start to move into the new and much larger space before they totally run out of room in "the cooler." That move will involve a lot of work. Expect a request for some. volunteer help. Since the update in the September/October newsletter, we have made slow but steady progress on the renovation of the boiler plant. You can follow the progress on our website at skaneateleshistoricalsociety.org. Look for Museum Construction and click on Photo Album of Construction. The website is expertly constructed and maintained by board member Kenneth Wooster. When visiting the website (or the real site), you will find that the new roof structure and, importantly, the clerestory are in place. Soon we hope to see the bricklayers cover up the Tyvek-clad walls, replacing the unstable brick wall sections we had to remove. While foundation, trenches are open for the connecting wing, we plan to route electric and gas feeds to the boiler plant. This will enable us to complete the floor slab within the boiler plant after placing heating coils above the insulation and reinforcing mesh already in place. Landscape architect Sal Strods has completed the plans for creek bank stabilization needed directly behind the boiler plant. The plans were submitted to NYSDEC and a permit was received in short order. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to proceed with the work until after May 15, 2009, in consideration of fish activities in the creek. Fortunately, the stabilization work can be reached from the south side of the boiler plant before we replace the lean-to. In the meantime our fundraising efforts are continuing on all fronts and we aim to find the balance of our $700,000 target, or about $175,000, so that we can complete this worthwhile project without interruption.
Do you have any dresses, suits or children's clothes from the 1940's or earlier that you would be willing to donate to the Society? We use them in our exhibits and programs, to give a sense of period. Please call the Creamery (685-1360) or drop them off.
CORNELL STUDENTS TO REPORT ON HOUSE HISTORIES
On Tuesday, December 9, at 7:30 at the firehouse, the eight Cornell graduate students who have been researching Skaneateles houses will report on their findings. They have been studying the architecture of and the families who have lived in some sixty houses along West Lake Street and West Genesee Street. Everyone is invited to come hear their illustrated talk. Those of you who came to the program given by last year's students know how informative, interesting and valuable such research is likely to be.
SPEAKING OF HOUSES . . .
Can anyone tell us where this house is? It looks familiar but
so far none of us has been able to place it. If you know, please give the Creamery a call (685-1360), so we can add the photo
to the house files.
CHECK OUT THE GIFT SHOP
Society tote bags $26
SEPTEMBER PROGRAM: RURAL SCHOOLS IN THE TOWN OF SKANEATELES
Skaneateles Town Historian Beth Batlle has spent nearly a year researching and documenting the history of more than 20 rural Skaneateles schools. Most were one-room schoolhouses and served children who lived outside the village prior to the school centralization in 1950. Many of the school buildings are still in existence (especially the stone schoolhouses) and now serve
a new purpose as homes. Beth has interviewed many of the students who attended these schools and compiled a book full
of photos to tell the story of these rural schools from the students' perspective.
OCTOBER PROGRAM: ANNE FRANK'S CLASSMATE REMINISCES
Lia Bates was a child growing up in Amsterdam when World War
II broke out. She attended a Montessori school where Anne Frank was her classmate for three years. For the October 28 program, Lia Bates will share her memories of Anne and of living through the war, the misery and the good part. A 17-year-old when the war ended, Lia will talk about "what it was like to be in the middle of the war and still function."
Their required course in calculus completed, Syracuse University sophomores head to nearby Skaneateles Lake for the annual Calculus Burial. A calculus textbook is placed on a raft, set afire, and pushed onto the water. The tradition ends in 1889 when accompanying fireworks prematurely explode.
CORNELL STUDENTS TO CONTINUE SURVEY
For the second year graduate students from the Cornell University Preservation Planning Program will hit the streets of Skaneateles to perform a historical survey. It's all about houses, history and architecture.
If you have been on Hannum Street recently, you may have noticed that the new walls of the former Boiler Plant have been rebuilt. Work will begin immediately on the roof. Next the heated floor system will be installed and the concrete floor poured. Sewer and water lines are tied in.
For the rest of September, the Creamery will be open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 1 to 4. In October and November till Thanksgiving, it will be open on Friday and Saturday, 1 - 4. From then to Christmas, it will be open Friday, Saturday,.Sunday, 1 - 4. For appointments on other days, other hours, please call the Creamery, 685-1360.
WELCOME TO NEW MEMBERS: VOLUNTEERS, ANYONE?
Since the spring, the Society has gained at least 140 new members! Most of them joined in response to the fund drive letter; others signed up after a visit to the Creamery. We welcome them all, for their interest in and support of the Historical Society. And we wonder whether any of them (or any "old-timers") are interested in volunteering to help at the Society.
CHESS IN SKANEATELES
I was talking about chess with a friend recently, over lunch at the Sherwood, and afterwards it occurred to me that we couldn't have chosen a better spot for the conversation.
In the late 19th century, the New York State Chess Association (NYSCA) held mid-summer meetings at places like Keuka Lake,
the Thousand Islands and Saratoga Springs. For the players
from large cities, these upstate tournaments were a welcome tonic, an escape to cooler, leafier climes. Beginning in August of 1889, Skaneateles was the host for four of these summer meetings, with the tourney headquartered at the Packwood House (today's Sherwood Inn).
DR. SMITH EXHIBIT
The Society would like to create an exhibit to honor Dr. Albert Smith, the wonderful friend and doctor to our Town. We have access to a few items from his office, documentations of his life and successes, but there is more.
MAY 27 PROGRAM: UNDERWATER SKANEATELES WITH JOHN WICKWIRE
Underwater Skaneateles will be the topic for the Society's May program, presented by local diver and boating enthusiast, John Wickwire. A Skaneateles Lake resident all his life, at the age of 49 John decided to become a certified scuba diver so he could explore the lake underwater.
ANNUAL MEETING: JUNE 24
Please come to the Creamery on June 24 for the annual meeting. It’s election day for the Society, as well as a good time to reminisce, check out what's new in the museum, and get an update on the museum expansion progress. The slate (to date): Running unopposed are Vice-President Kathy Kane; Corresponding Secretary Sally Holben; Recording Secretary Mona Smalley; Treasurer Joan Thomsen; running for the 2 openings on the Board are David Bates, David Miller, Judy Morrissey, and Sue Spalding. Nominations from the floor may be made at either the May or June meeting. The meeting begins at 7:30 and everyone is welcome, although only members may vote.
SUMMER HOURS AT THE CREAMERY
From now through the summer, the Creamery will be open to the public on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday afternoons from 1 to 4. On Fridays, a special assistant will be there to help with research. Appointments on other days may be made by calling the Creamery at 685-1360.
NEW SIGNAGE AT THE CREAMERY
Next time you're at the Creamery, please check out the new signs for the boat exhibits, thanks to help from Chase Design. They make the information much easier to read (you don't have to practically fall into the boats to read it) and the signs are handsome in themselves. This signage is only the first step in our revamping of all the display signs in the Museum. Many thanks to Chase for their expertise and help!
REQUEST FOR PRESSES
Ted Prindle, our master archivist, asks for donations of any pre-1965 Skaneateles Presses, especially for the 140s and '50s. Our collection has certain gaps, which make research difficult and frustrating.
"SKANEATELES SCRAPBOOK -- LIVE AT THE SHERWOOD"
Henry (Hank) Bryant would be 105 years old on May 19. To celebrate his life and to give his friends a chance to reminisce and tell "Hank stories," his daughter, Judy Bryant, is giving a birthday party for him on that day, Monday, May 19, at the Sherwood at 7pm. Everyone is welcome to come to the west porch for light refreshments, a birthday cake, and a cash bar. Come to enjoy Hank once again, back at his old stamping grounds.
HISTORICAL SOCIETY WEBSITE
The Society's own computer maven, Board member Ken Wooster, has created our new website at skaneateleshistoricalsociety.org. This site was launched on March 24, 2008, after many years of being hosted by the Skaneateles Chamber of Commerce.
On Monday, May 19, restoration work will begin on the boiler building, as the first step in the museum expansion project. Since this is the last newsletter until September, check the local papers during the summer to get further information on the expansion progress. Better yet, stroll down Hannum Street, on your way to the Creamery perhaps, and get an upclose look at what's going on.
HOW ABOUT A HOUSE PLAQUE?
With the Village and the Fire Department celebrating their birthdays, perhaps it's time for you to celebrate the birthday of your house with a plaque showing the date it was built. They are available at the Gift Shop, for $35.00 plus tax; we can help you research your house, if you don't know the date.
CHAINS AND LINKS
While you're researching your house for its age, so you can get it a plaque, you may come across the terms "chains" and "links." Suppose your deed says 5 chains and 33 links; you don’t need to take the long way, which is 5 x 66 = 330 ft 33 x 7.92 = 261.36 -- 12 (inches) = 21.78 ft. 330 ft + 21.78 ft = 351.78 ft (approx. 352 ft). There is a much easier way: 5.33 x 66 = 351.78 ft. Now, isn't that easier and less confusing? (from "How to Think Like an Abstractor," Cindy Amrhein)
SCHOOL NOTES 1933
During the annual spring rural school Field Day, the morning was devoted to group games. In the afternoon was a marionette show, band concert, a "novelty" broadcast, and a talk about 4-H Club activities. Exhibits in the high school gym included bird houses, the evolution of the alphabet from the Egyptian to the English, plans of a Greek house, and a model of a feudal castle with moat and drawbridge. There was also a ball game between the Skaneateles and Weedsport high schools (Skaneateles won). In the evening was a speaking contest, as well as instrumental selections by the high school band (including a trumpet solo by Doris Laxton).
RURAL SCHOOLS Beth Batlle, Town Historian
At one time there were over 15 rural schools dotted across the Town of Skaneateles; some still exist, now disguised as family homes, while others are just ghosts of the past. The first rural school was on Willow Glen, a log cabin built on the west side
of the creek by Robert Earll in 1798. Edith Whitman taught here, the first teacher recorded in our Skaneateles history.
The New York State Legislature passed an act in 1812 that established the New York School System. It required that schools be within walking distance of 5-year-old children. Under good conditions, 20 to 30 minutes was considered a reasonable walking time.
This school was once the Lakeside InstituteThe "stoop" was recovered and replaced, but the name stuck. At the conclusion of their education in the rural school, the students had to find some way to get to the village high school in order to continue their education. Finally, the improvement of roads and the advent of school buses led to the Central School District Law, in 1925.
However, it wasn't until May 26, 1950, that the decision to centralize was put before Skaneateles residents. Of the 904 people who voted, 826 were for centralization, 77 against. A new school board was electred and Fred Fundis became what is now the Superintendent of Schools. The transition from a small classroom to a larger school wasn't always easy for students; however, they now had a wider range of educational choices and especially equipped classrooms -- science, music, arts for example. The rural school was no longer needed, but it has not been forgotten by its former students.
If you wish to learn more about rural schools in Skaneateles, please visit our new exhibit at the Creamery. Or, if you have some personal memories or photos of a rural school that you wish to share, please bring them in to us.
SCHOOL NOTES 1877
Their required course in calculus completed, Syracuse University sophomores head to nearby Skaneateles Lake for the annual Calculus Burial. A calculus textbok is placed on a raft, set afire, and pushed onto the water. The tradition ends in 1889 when accompanying fireworks prematurely explode. (Thanks to Kihm Winship for this tidbit). Do you suppose John Wickwire has come across any of these books?
SCHOOL NOTES 1908
While debating where to build the new high school, the Village seriously considered several properties before the school was built, in 1910, where the State Street School is now. Among the sites considered was the Roosevelt property on East Genesee (where Stella Maris is now), the Thorne property on State Street (where the State Street apartments now are, and the J.S. Holben property on Jordan Street (where the Lombardis now live). The going prices at the time ranged from $5000 to $15000.
MARCH 25 PROGRAM: DR. STEPHEN SMITH, PIONEER IN PUBLIC HEALTH
Looking back on two centuries of public health history in Skaneateles will be the topic for the Historical Society's March program, presented by local pediatrician and public health specialist, Dr. Philip Gioia. A special focus of the program will be Dr. Stephen Smith, a famous physician who was born on a farm in Spafford in 1823, and became a pioneer in sanitary reforms in New York City. In 1872, Dr. Smith was the founder and first president of the American Public Health Association. Dr. Gioia is a 1975 graduate of Upstate Medical School in Syracuse who summered for many years at his family's Skaneateles camp. In 1981 he started his practice in Auburn and last fall opened a Skaneateles office on Fennell Street. Please join us on Tuesday, March 25, at 7:30 at the Creamery, to hear more from Dr. Gioia about the beginnings of public health practice, both locally and nationally, and about native son Dr. Stephen Smith, who played such a critical role.APRIL 22 PROGRAM: THE BRYANTS IN SKANEATELES
Judy Bryant has been researching her family and its history for many years. On Tuesday, April 22, Judy will present a program on her family in the context of the search experience. Judy's grandfather, Demsey Bryant, born in New Bern, North Carolina, in 1848, was the son of freed slaves and served in the Civil War. Only 17 when it ended, he headed north and settled in central New York and eventually Skaneateles where he owned five houses on West Elizabeth Street, in one of which Judy grew up. Judy's father, Henry "Hank" Bryant, was a noted local musician and active in Skaneateles community affairs, especially the Lions, and government; her mother, Gladys, was Harriet Tubman's great-grandniece.
Judy has acquired the unofficial title of family historian as she has sifted through family memorabilia, visited the town
of her grandfather's birth in North Carolina, and done research online and at the Historical Society. She will spotlight the resources and invaluable research assistance available at the Creamery.
Because of bad weather, we had to cancel the February program on post and beam barns. We are hoping to reschedule the program, perhaps in the fall. Keep your eyes peeled on this newsletter and the local papers to learn when it may occur.SECRET SHOVELERS
Several times this past winter we have been surprised, delighted, and relieved to discover that the Creamery porch had been shoveled. (The Village plows the parking lot.) A little detective work determined that Charlie Major and Bill Miller were two of the Good Samaritans, and we thank them for their thoughtfulness and muscle. If anyone else was part of this good work, our thanks to you, too.INTERNET ACCESS NOW AVAILABLE The Creamery is pleased to announce that we now have Verizon's FIOS service to provide us with speedy internet access. This will be a big help to people doing genealogical research who want to access pertinent genealogy databases, and will allow us to access other helpful Web sites related to historical information. WHAT IS AN AVENUE? THIS VILLAGE BOARD KNOWS The following article is from the Syracuse Post-Standard, June 24, 1999, in the "Today in History" section under the caption "75 Years Ago."
1924 The Skaneateles Village Board denied a move by 83 property owners on Railroad Street to change the name of that street to Fennell Avenue in honor of Martin Fennell, retired boat captain and engineer. The board agreed to change the name to Fennell Street, but not to avenue on the grounds Railroad Street was not an avenue. The board contended that an avenue was a thoroughfare lined with beautiful trees, shrubbery and flowers. Since Skaneateles Railroad runs through Railroad Street, and there were no beautiful trees, shrubbery and flowers, the board refused to name it an avenue.
Thanks to Ken Wooster for spotting and passing on this tidbit.THE VILLAGE OF SKANEATELES IS 175 YEARS OLD
Pat Blackler, Village Historian
On April 19, Skaneateles can say that the Village was incorporated 175 years ago, in 1833. At the centennial celebration of the same date, in 1933, there were grand festivities in the Village. I quote from an editorial in the then Syracuse Herald: "It is a wholesome, patriotic sentiment that inspires American villages to recognize their centennial anniversaries with up-to-date celebrations marked by reminiscent fervor. As in the case of Skaneateles Village, demonstrations of this class arouse a neighborhood enthusiasm which the average large city cannot match in point of local ardor." The 100th celebration was a success from every angle; the weather was perfect, and there were thousands of visitors to the Village who were very impressed with the week-long pageant. A temporary museum was set up by the residents in a home on Genesee Street.
A civic holiday was declared by the then mayor, Charles DeWitt; all business was suspended to witness a parade that included a covered wagon driven by a descendant of the Cuddeback family (our first settler). Dr. Alexander Flick, the State Historian, and Judge Frank Hiscock spoke that day. During the week, the Central New York Firemen's Association opened a two-day convention; 210 delegates attended and more then 2000 firemen of the 14 CNY and Southern Tier counties took part in an all-day program. The Skaneateles Firemen also were celebrating their centennial.
In 1983 the Village was to celebrate again, this time for the 150th, the sesquicentennial. Under the wonderful leadership of Dave Chase, Don Stinson, and their committee, events dotted the whole year and a souvenir booklet was published that is used today by anyone who wants to have a quick and easy knowledge of our history. The booklet has been reprinted by the Historical Society and is on sale at the Creamery. Every Village resident should have one in their bookcase. Let me quote from Mr. Chase's foreword to the publication: "This booklet can only touch on the people, events and accomplishments that have made Skaneateles what it is today. I do hope, however, it will stimulate many of you to look further into our rich history and to become more aware of the personalities and the vital additions over the years that have enhanced the quality of living in our lovely community."
So here we are today, the 175th, yes, the quartoseptcentennial. May the word feel right and be easily said by April 19 when both the Volunteer Firemen and the Village will celebrate the day and the year. Happy Anniversary!THE CREAMERY: LOOKING BACK
Ninety years ago, on November 21, 1918, the Skaneateles Creamery Company transferred its plant and its Benson Street skimming station to the Best Ice Cream Company of Syracuse. The Creamery Company then dissolved and went out of business. The capital stock of the business was $4,000, and it was thought the stockholders would receive about $100 for each $50 share of stock held by them.THE CREAMERY: LOOKING AHEAD MUSEUM EXPANSION UPDATE
Bent Thomsen, Steering Committee
With spring and warmer weather right around the corner, the activities in connection with our planned museum expansion are heating up as well. An asbestos inspection has been completed within the old boiler plant that will be renovated to house transportation and boat exhibits. Regulatory approvals for our project have been secured. David Secor of Secor Building Solutions has been chosen as construction manager. Architect Bob Eggleston is steadily progressing with the renovation plans as well as the plans for the connecting wing and the "ice-house" addition. An asbestos removal contract will be awarded in a few weeks. Renovation of the old boiler plant will proceed immediately following asbestos removal.
Our Board of Directors and the Campaign and Steering Committees have been very active sending out letters to prospective donors. We are pleased to report that to date more than 66% of our goal of $530,000 has been reached. We have also submitted applications for grants to federal and state sources as well as to local foundations. At this time we are very optimistic that the generous support we are receiving at all levels will enable us to move directly from the boiler renovation to construction of the two additions.
Doubling the museum footprint will allow for expanded and improved exhibits. Chase Design, Inc. has generously volunteered to help us with the planning of this. The "ice-house" addition will allow us to expand research and archival spaces. A subcommittee of museum volunteers is working on how to optimize the layout of these "back rooms." The current gift shop will be renovated to house our museum director and administrative activities, allowing us to move office equipment out of the public meeting room. The gift shop will be moved to a prominent location in the new connecting wing near the new main entrance to the museum.
As we progress we will provide further updates, but make sure to take the opportunity to stop by and see for yourselves what is happening.SKANEATELES FIREMEN OVER SOME OF THEIR 175 YEARS
"Firemen of the 50s," by William S. White in Skaneateles Democrat, April 21, 1910: To remind firemen of their monthly meetings, "a tin horn of fair dimensions . . . inserted in the nozzle of the long discharge pipe and filled by a few strokes of the breaks [handles] would emit a scream that would cause a lighthouse fog siren to turn green with envy."
"The village fire inspectors have examined the Skaneateles High School [the old Academy] building and will officially report to the village trustees at their next regular meeting. It is rumored that fire escapes are to be recommended from the second floor on the west of the building, and that the oiling of floors will be condemned. At a fire drill yesterday morning the High School building discharged all the scholars to the grounds outside in less than a minute." Skaneateles Press, March 13, 1906.
Ed. note: The high school moved up State Street in 1910 and was there until the fire in 1952 that some people believe spread so quickly because of the oiled floors.
"Fire Alarms Keep Firemen From Senility The Skaneateles Fire Department has had a very busy week this week" . . . In the course of four days, the firemen were called out to seven fires, six of them grass fires and one of them a car fire. "Police have issued a warning to people to be very cautious in the conduct of their bonfires.” Skaneateles Press, April 18, 1958
HISTORICAL SOCIETY EXPANSION PROJECT--JANUARY 22 PROGRAM
Architect Bob Eggleston and Steering Committee member Bent Thomsen will present an informational program on our museum expansion project. They will explain the plans for the renovation of the recently purchased former boiler plant at 24 Hannum Street into a boat/transportation museum. They will also present plans for a building that will connect the new museum and the Creamery and an addition at the northeast corner of the Creamery, in an area that was once an icehouse. What will these new spaces be used for? Please join us to find out, on January 22, at 7:30. PowerPoint handouts will be available.
FEBRUARY 26th PROGRAM: EARLY POST AND BEAM BARNS
Rich Haven of Fayette (Seneca County) will speak on "Early Post and Beam Barns and How They Were Constructed" at the February meeting. With hand-hewn timbers and old tools on display, we will see how the barns of the 1800s were shaped and raised. Join us for the program at 7:30 at the Creamery.
1865 NEW YORK STATE CENSUS INDEX
Two of the Society's most dedicated and indefatigable researchers, Jim Dougherty and Ted Prindle, have completed the index for the 1865 Skaneateles census. The index is now on the shelf in the meeting room. Since finding out about their families is the number one quest of people coming to the Creamery, such an index is an invaluable tool for research. Thank you, Jim and Ted, for the countless Saturday hours you put in to this project!
Hart Larrabee, grandson of Marshal and Elizabeth Larrabee, is setting up a web page about his grandfather and Skaneateles Handicrafters. If you worked there between 1930 and 1965 and have memories you'd be willing to share, please get in touch with Hart at firstname.lastname@example.org
THE FIRE BELL Beth Batlle, Town HistorianSitting on a brick pedestal in front of the fire station on Fennell Street is one of the earliest forms of alerting the fire fighters of the community. The large bell was originally housed in the 12-foot-square, 59-foot-high tower of the red brick and stone fire station that was located at the corner of Jordan and Fennell Streets.
All through the 1800s the large bell tolled for alarms. Anyone knowing of a fire would run to the fire station and ring the bell. Eventually more modern forms of alerting the fire fighters of an emergency were used, such as electrically operated roof top sirens and fire alarm boxes located on utility poles throughout the Village. The last time the bell was rung from the old fire station was October 4, 1964, when the fire department moved down the street to its present location. The brick pedestal for the old bell was constructed in 1975, made of the same yellow brick as the fire station. Inside the base was placed a copper history box: a time capsule of sorts, it contained 1890 items from the cornerstone box of the old fire station, such as a copy of the Skaneateles Democrat and Skaneateles Free Press. Items from 1975 were added, including a copy of the Skaneateles Press and Pennysaver.Just recently the bell was removed from its base and put into storage until the time comes when it can be installed at the new fire house at the corner of West Genesee Street and Kane Avenue. The time capsule is currently being stored in a safe and will be opened at the 175th anniversary dinner scheduled for April of 2008.
Editor's note: If you haven't had a chance to see Lisa Leubner's gingerbread model of the red brick fire house, please make a point of visiting the Creamery to check it out.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
Gleanings from 1958 Skaneateles Presses:
THE SURFWOOD ROOM AND BAR UPSTAIRS IN THE TOWN HOUSE REOPENS TONIGHT ••• Our recent fire did not in any way damage our upstairs Surfwood Room. A visit will please you.
THE TOWN HOUSE Jordan Street
RIEDL'S RESTAURANT "Where the chatter is on the platter." 44 East Genesee Street
SKANEATELES GRANGE SUPPER: Tomato juice, chicken and biscuit, mashed potatoes, squash, peas, home-made rolls, brown bread, cabbage salad, pickles and jelly, pie, tea, coffee, milk--$1.50
EARLY SKANEATELES SIDEWALKS Beth Batlle, Town Historian
Early sidewalks in Skaneateles were made of wooden planks. In the winter snow would accumulate, sometimes up to a depth of four feet, making it difficult to walk to the post office or other essential places.
In 1867, Freeborn Jewett opened a flagstone quarry near Stag Horn Point as there was a demand for flagstone to improve the sidewalks in the Village. In 1868, a flagstone walk was laid from Legg Hall to the bridge. Scows were built to carry the flagstone down the lake to the Village. Unfortunately, one of Jewett's scows, "Dunderburg, loaded with flagstone, sank near the coffer dam.
Also in 1867, the Village passed a bill giving the Trustees the duty of seeing that winter snow-and ice were removed from the Village sidewalks, keeping at least one sidewalk on each Village street free from snow. The pathmaster (as the superintendent of highways was then called) used horse-drawn scrapers and plows to cut a path 4-feet-wide early in the morning after a snow storm.
Two hundred dollars from the highway tax funds was to be set aside to pay for the service. E.N. Leslie, in his History of Skaneateles said, "There is no other expenditure of money received from taxation that all the residents get more value from and more comfort from than the cost of scraping the snow from the sidewalks-here in the village." He called this a "Skaneateles invention." This convenience remains in effect today, although of course more modern equipment is now used.
In 1904 and 1905, Village crews began to pour concrete sidewalks throughout the Village. However, at least one flagstone sidewalk remains today and can be found on the south side of the Creamery building on Hannum Street.
"THOSE WERE SOME GUYS" Pat Blackler, Village Historian
Jerry and Tom Shallish came to Skaneateles from Somersetshire, England, in the 1840s, before they were ten years old, two brothers coming across the ocean with their family. The voyage took eight weeks and four days. When Jerry died at 95 in 1926, he was one of the oldest and most highly respected citizens of the Village.
When he was 19 years old, Jerry started a plumbing and tinning business and carried on his craft for 71 years. From 1888, his shop had its location in Legg Hall. In his 90s he still ran ads in the newspapers to publish his plumbing business. Jerry was regular and temperate in his habits, working winter and summer in all weathers. He was never intoxicated in his whole life. He was proud of his Masonic record, holding the office of High Priest for 18 years. He was also a Knights Templar and a Shriner.
In the late 1800s, he bought a lot on Leitch Avenue (#10 today), made the plans and built the house. In early 1908, when most men of his age would feel they should take life easy, he wired his home for electricity and installed all the fixtures. "I never turned down a job because I thought I couldn't do it. I took anything that came my way and did it. Copper and tin work, silver plating for carriages, opening safes: I have done them all." (Skaneateles Press, July 13, 1923) He also assisted in putting up the pipe organs in each of the Skaneateles churches. He claimed in a 1923 interview for the Post Standard that people were softer then than they were in the old days. What would he think of us today in 2008?
And what about Jerry's younger brother Tom? The "Laura," for many years the champion sailboat on Skaneateles Lake, was captained by Tom Shallish, carriage maker and sailor. Henry Latrobe Roosevelt owned the "Laura," which had been designed in 1856 by George Steers, who had also designed the "America," the first winner of the America Cup races, in 1851. The "Laura"was built in Skaneateles.
Captain Shallish had a 12-man crew; the "Laura" was a sandbagger in those days. To celebrate her victory in the Inter-Lake races of 1874, Mr. Roosevelt had a picnic on his lawn (116 East Genesee Street) in honor of the winning sailors. The prize was a silver set composed of a teapot, coffee pot, water pitcher, sugar bowl, cream pitcher, and spoon holder. The crew were given gifts of money, but the silver service was given to Tom Shallish. The set is inscribed: "First Sailing Race won by the Laura at the Regatta on Skaneateles Lake, August 20, 1874." The "Laura" was sailed for 75 years on Skaneateles Lake. The silver service is now owned by the Historical Society and can be seen at the Creamery.
Tom died at 71 in 1905; his wife Nancy died five months before her 100th birthday in 1939. Tom and Nancy were the great grandparents of Peggy Palmer Major, who lives on Austin Street. You have some great genes there, Peggy.