Wednesday, June 16, 2010

All Good Things...

Digg!Is it really true, that "All good things must come to an end?"

You might think that being in the historic preservation field means that we want all good things - especially architectural and historic good things - to last forever.

Perhaps you wonder how an organization that supports "preservation" would be closing one of its finest architectural structures.

On July 1, 2010, the Campbell-Whittlesey House will cease operations as a museum. A month after that, it's anticipated that the property will be placed on the market.

Campbell-Whittlesey was the impetus for the start of The Landmark Society. It was purchased in 1937 by Helen Ellwanger to save it from destruction. Miss Ellwanger and others formed "The Society for the Preservation of Landmarks in Western New York

How can we sell what so many have put their hearts and souls and pocketbooks into? Are we betraying the trust of the past 73 years?

I don't think we are.

Their goal was to see an architecturally significant structure saved from demolition. At that time, the accepted procedure was to make such a structure into a house museum. But even at the start, their intention to form a historic preservation group, not a museum organization, was clear. They didn't name the group "The C-W House" - the used the term "Landmarks" - plural.

But what about over 60 years of operation as a museum?

Yes - that is a good thing that is coming to an end. There is some sadness attached to this for many of us - myself included.

Why wouldn't there be? It's only natural when a good thing comes to an end. When a vacation is over. When a child leaves home. When a life well-lived ends. When the cherry blossoms fall.

The Japanese celebrate that moment of inevitable change by holding "hanami" - flower viewing parties under the cherry blossoms. They enjoy their beauty, but also acknowledge a belief called "mono no aware." Literally translated this means "sensitivity to things" - an awareness of the ephemeral nature of all things in life. The Japanese believe the cherry blossoms are more beautiful because they last such a very short time.

Of course - you must first recognize the beauty or goodness of something, if you are to celebrate with a gentle sadness its passing.

Please join us on Saturday, June 19th th celebrate the "good thing" of Campbell-Whittlesey serving as a museum for many generations; at 123 South Fitzhugh in historic Corn Hill. We'll be offering complimentary visits between 1 and 3 pm, refreshments, and a chance to share a memory about Campbell-Whittlesey to be saved in our archives. Click here for more details.

Yes - all good things must come to an end.

But it's what comes next that helps us face the changes in our lives.

The end of vacation leads to refreshed body and spirit. The child leaves home to become an adult member of society. The life well-lived leaves a legacy through family and friends. The blossoms yield to the cherries.

Campbell-Whittlesey will continue beyond its function as a museum, its architectural integrity protected by legal covenants. We don't know yet exactly what its new life will be - but our on-going watch will insure that it is cared for, so it may survive to be a part of our cityscape for many years - and generations - to come.

Posted by Director of Museums and Education Cindy Boyer

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Better than 3-D: Taste History - Literally!


Take that, Avatar! Stand back, Clash of the Titans! We have something way better than 3-D!

Savor the flavors of the past at Tastings Through Time - this Friday night at the Stone-Tolan House Museum. You don't have to be content with merely seeing an adventure in 3-D. You can enjoy it in 5-S - all of your senses! See the historic house. Hear the stories of time past. Touch the smooth glass holding your wine. Smell the fragrant spices in the stuffed mushrooms. Taste the decadent chocolate and wine pairing.

On Friday night, June 4th, we'll be serving up "tastings" of delightful fare from across 200 years of Rochester's history. The decades of dishes reflect the decades of the houses on this year's House and Garden Tour (June 5& 6) from the earliest house in the county to a 1990's "landmark in the making."

I'm really looking forward to the Friday night event. As Director of Museums and Education, it's my professional duty to taste each and every dish, in the drive to understand more about our past.

I will have to investigate our earliest ancestor's tastebuds by trying the cheese chowder and crusty bread - perhaps accompanied by an historic ale from Custom BrewcCrafters. It's what original residents Orringh and Elizabeth Stone would want me to do.

While I am still studying the early 19th century, I'll try the "little cabbages" - the nickname for an 1836 creampuff. I understand they are far superior to what we consider a creampuff today.

As I continue my studies, I'll move into the refreshments from the mid to late 19th century. Mushrooms a la' Provencale awaits, as does potted cheese - a savory cheese spread. Of special interest will be the tiny pickled onions, from the 1881 cookbook "What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking" - the first cookbook by an African-American published in the U.S. I hear the onions are quite spicy - and addictive.

My research Friday night will not be limited to the 19th century. The early 20th century will be well represented, with an homage to the first cocktail party menus, with "russian sandwiches" - colorful hors'dourves with olives, butter and other savory ingredients, celery canapes and other nibbles of the 1920's and 30's.

Even though at this point I will have already worked my way through several decades, there is always room for - you guessed it. Jello. But not just any Jello - one of the favorite flavors of the past century: coffee Jello. Accented with a pouf of whipped cream of course. Just think of it as an espresso shooter.

I might be tempted to take a break at this point - perhaps visit the Stone-Tolan House Museum which will be open in the twilight's glow that evening.

After that refreshing visit, history - and the menu marches on! Try not to have too much pity for me, as I approach the delights of the 1950's. In a melding of sock hop days and today, burgers will be presented in "slider" size.

Accompanying the burgers - mini root beer floats, of course. Did I mention the root beer (like the ales) will come from Custom Brewcrafter's historic and delicious recipes?

Research is never really finished - and when you are studying the past, you must understand it in the context of today. I won't shirk my duty. I will visit the last decade of our delights - the contemporary tastes offered by Chocolate and Vines. Pairings of wine and cheese or wine and chocolate will educate our 21st century palates. I will probably have to try both.

All of these dishes - and more - will surely give a well-rounded understanding of the times and tastes of those who lived in our area over the past 200 years.

If you join me in this research undertaking - you'll also enjoy the scent of plants and flowers (available for purchase) courtesy of our friends at Allyn's Creek Garden Club and the hospitality of our hosts, Historic Brighton.

If that was not enough, your ticket to Tastings Through Time also includes a ticket to our annual House and Garden Tour, on Saturday and Sunday. A self guided tour, you may visit the homes in any order on either day. A good thing, because after all the fun on Friday night, you may wish to sleep in a bit on Saturday morning.

Visit here to get tickets for Friday evening - as well as a description of the houses on the weekend tour. The "Tastings Through Time" tickets must be purchased in advance!

I hope you'll join me at this tasty tribute to times past. It will be a lot of fun - and you won't have to duck any fake 3-D arrows.

A trio of chocolate delights!
Posted by Cindy Boyer, Director of Museums and Education